Unstructured Finance

M&A wrap: Amazon, Nokia, Microsoft weighed RIM bids

Research In Motion has turned down takeover overtures from Amazon.com and other potential buyers because the BlackBerry maker prefers to fix its problems on its own, according to people with knowledge of the situation. Amazon hired an investment bank this summer to review a potential merger with RIM, but it did not make a formal offer, said one of the sources. It is not clear whether informal discussions between Amazon and RIM ever led to specific price talk.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft and Nokia have discussed the idea of a joint bid for RIM, but the status of those talks remains unclear.

HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank, is retreating from Japan’s private banking market, selling a business that serves the wealthy to Credit Suisse, which is raising its profile in the world’s second-largest market for millionaires.

Tokio Marine said it will buy U.S. insurer Delphi Financial Group for $2.7 billion and is eying other acquisition targets, as Japan’s No.2 property-casualty insurer looks to expand outside its mature home market and diversify geographic risks.

Dozens of black-suited investigators, marching double-file, raided the office building of three small Olympus Corp subsidiaries Wednesday, one of 20 sites searched in a probe of a $1.7 billion accounting scandal that threatens the once-proud Japanese medical device maker’s survival.

M&A wrap: T-Mobile “crying out” for Sprint tie-up?

Deutsche Telekom may be forced into a tie-up of its sub-scale U.S. wireless unit with Sprint Nextel after a $39 billion deal with AT&T collapsed. While Deutsche Telekom is now walking away with a $6 billion breakup package, its chief executive Rene Obermann has lost a lot of time and will now have to invest in the U.S. market or find a new way to exit the country, an option analysts regard as unlikely. T-Mobile USA “is just crying out for a merger with Sprint. That’s the only long-term solution for Deutsche Telekom,” Will Draper, head of telecoms research at Espirito Santo, said.

Goldman Sachs claimed the spot as the top U.S. M&A adviser in 2011 as rivals JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley fell in the standings due to the collapse of AT&T’s $39 billion deal to buy Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile USA unit. JP Morgan, which had previously been the top U.S. M&A adviser for the year, advised AT&T along with Greenhill and Evercore. Morgan Stanley, which had been No. 2 in U.S. M&A based on the dollar value of transactions on which it had advised, was working for Deutsche Telekom along with Citigroup, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank.

Olympus Corp is preparing to issue about $1.28 billion (100 billion yen) in new shares to bolster its depleted finances, with Japanese high-tech stalwarts Sony and Fujifilm seen as possible buyers, the Nikkei business daily reported. The report comes after a warning from one of the camera and endoscope maker’s leading shareholders that the scandal-tainted board may try to retain control by issuing new shares to dilute the power of existing shareholders.

M & A wrap: The man at war with Olympus

Michael Woodford asked too many questions. That’s the reason the 51-year-old Englishman gives for why he lost his job as the first-ever foreign-born CEO at Japanese camera maker Olympus a mere two weeks after he was given the role in early October.

Woodford tells Reuters investigative reporters Kirstin Ridley and Alexander Smith in a new special report that it was his inquiries into a series of questionable takeover deals and advisor payouts the company made over the past half decade, including the biggest mergers and acquisitions fee ever, that led to his ouster. Board members insist instead it was Woodford’s failure to grasp the company’s management style and Japanese culture that cost him the job, but Woodford says allegations of a “power grab” by him are not the “real story”. Now, Woodford is on a one-man campaign to “cleanse” Olympus with the goal of removing its entire board.

Giving in to pressure from many corners, Olympus on Tuesday named six men, including a former Japanese supreme court justice, to investigate the past M&A deals at the core of the scandal in a bid to stem an exodus of irate investors. The all-Japanese committee will look into $687 million in payments made to a financial adviser for the $2 billion purchase of British medical equipment maker Gyrus in 2008  and the acquisition of three companies in Japan that Olympus, under chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa’s decade-long reign at the company, later largely wrote off.

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