Unstructured Finance

M & A wrap: Citi scores big with EMI deals

The music industry may have a bit of life left in it after all. At least that’s the impression one is left with this week after Citigroup scored a better-than-expected $4.1 billion from two deals that mark the end of a months-long auction to sell off the parts of 114-year-old British music company EMI Group.

Vivendi’s Universal Music Group and Sony won the auction for EMI’s recorded music and music publishing operations, trumping bids by archrivals Warner Music Group and BMG Music Publishing at the 11th hour, reports Peter Lauria, editor-in-charge of Technology, Media and Telecommunications at Reuters. Universal plans to buy EMI’s recorded-music unit for $1.9 billion, according to a source involved in the process, snagging the rights to music by artists such as Coldplay, the Beatles and Katy Perry in the deal.  A consortia led by Sony is expected to buy EMI’s publishing operation for $2.2 billion.

MF Global’s liquidators are struggling to sell the Asian business as one concern because of problems unwinding trading positions, so they may now sell the various country units separately, report Reuters correspondents Rachel Armstrong and Bruce Hextall. The provisional liquidators for the business in Hong Kong said on Friday there had been a number of encouraging bids for the regional business as a whole but the exercise has proved increasingly complex and the focus is now on selling off the various Asian business units individually.

U.S. coal giant Peabody Energy extended its $5 billion bid for Australia’s Macarthur Coal by two weeks after failing to reach the 90 percent threshold for acceptances by its Friday deadline, reports Sydney-based correspondent Lincoln Feast. Peabody’s acquisition of Macarthur will give it control of the world’s top producer of pulverized coal, just at a time when demand for steel-making materials holds up in Australia’s key coal market, China.

Companies in Greater China are lining up to sell shares in initial public offerings in coming months, braving jittery markets with $11.2 billion in deals, reports Hong Kong-based Elzio Barreto. Issuers are betting the steep rebound in Hong Kong and Chinese markets in the past month might signal renewed appetite for offerings that would provide funding for expansion and takeovers.

Deals wrap: Shell games

A new Reuters investigative report takes a deeper look at a niche industry of advisers who specialize in so-called “reverse merger” deals that use shell companies to give clients easy entry into U.S. capital markets. As correspondents Nanette Byrnes and Lynnley Browning report, more than 400 Chinese companies have been listed in the U.S. over the course of the last decade by way of this back-door method. But, as their investigation shows, a recent “spate of spectacular collapses of Chinese stocks listed on American exchanges has cost U.S. investors billions of dollars” and sparked multiple investigations into the practice.

Job cuts are on the way at HSBC. Europe’s biggest bank announced plans to axe 30,000 positions between now and the end of 2013 as it retreats from countries around the globe where it is struggling to compete. The first 5,000 cuts came as part of the company’s restructuring efforts across Latin America, the U.S., Britain, France and the Middle East. The bank, which posted a surprise rise in first-half profit on Monday, is reversing a strategy that had been criticized for “planting flags” around the world. CEO Stuart Gulliver’s far-reaching plan unveiled three months ago aims to slash costs and he intends to sell, shut or slim down retail banking in 39 countries. HSBC said on Sunday it would sell 195 U.S. branches to First Niagara Financial for about $1 billion in cash, and close another 13 of the 470 sites it had.

Peabody Energy and ArcelorMittal launched a hostile $5.2 billion bid for Macarthur Coal after the Australian target’s board said the approach undervalued the company and it was working on attracting a rival offer. Peabody, the largest U.S. coal company, and ArcelorMittal, the world’s top steelmaker, have been courting Macarthur to secure its resources of pulverized coal, a key steelmaking ingredient, but talks to get the backing of Macarthur’s board collapsed over the weekend.

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