Deals of the day -- mergers and acquisitions

Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:00pm EST

Nov 27 (Reuters) - The following bids, mergers, acquisitions and disposals were reported by 2100 GMT on Tuesday:

** Belarus is in talks with companies from China, India, Europe and the Arab world on selling a minority stake in potash giant Belaruskali but will not drop its $30-32 billion valuation, President Alexander Lukashenko said.

Russia's Uralkali has long coveted a controlling stake in Belaruskali, which accounts for 15 percent of the world potash market.

** Long-time suitor ConAgra Foods Inc finally sealed a deal to buy private-label foods maker Ralcorp Holdings Inc for $5 billion, to tap into the booming business for packaged food that stores sell under their own brands.

** Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc agreed to sell property group Archstone to two real estate investment trusts for about $6.5 billion, taking advantage of a strong market for apartments and marking an end to a 2007 gamble that helped push the investment bank into bankruptcy.

The buyers, Equity Residential and AvalonBay Communities Inc, will split the assets 60-40 and will also take on Archstone's debt, for a total transaction value of $16 billion.

** Nationwide, Britain's biggest customer-owned financial services group, is interested in bidding for 316 branches being sold by Royal Bank of Scotland to speed up its expansion into lending to small and medium-sized businesses. A 1.65-billion-pound ($2.6 billion) deal to sell the branches to Spanish bidder Santander collapsed last month.

** Italy's Eni raised 1.4 billion euros ($1.81 billion) from the sale of shares and convertible bonds in Galp Energia on Tuesday as it pushes on with plans to exit the Portuguese energy company.

** Hutchison Whampoa expects the European Commission to approve its 1.3 billion euro ($1.7 billion) takeover of Orange Austria after a linked deal was approved on Tuesday.

** U.S. private equity firm TPG has acquired truck and trailer parts distributor FleetPride from Bahrain's alternative asset manager Investcorp for over $1 billion, Investcorp said.

** Swedish packaging companies Kinnevik and Billerud won EU regulatory approval on Tuesday for their planned merger which will create a company with annual sales of about 20 billion crowns ($2.99 billion).

** Telekom Austria got the go-ahead to buy Orange Austria's discount mobile brand Yesss for 390 million euros ($505.4 million), paving the way for a long-awaited consolidation of Austria's telecoms market.

** FirstRand could spend more than $300 million to buy a retail and commercial bank in Nigeria to expand in Africa's top oil producer, the head of South Africa's second-largest lender said.

** A unit of family-owned Indian conglomerate Hinduja Group has hired Deutsche Bank to evaluate the potential sale of its 49-percent stake in a Saudi Arabian lubricants venture that is valued at up to $700 million, three sources said.

** Shares in British aerospace group BAE Systems rose sharply on Tuesday, with four traders citing market speculation of interest in the company from U.S. group Lockheed Martin.

** Brazil's state-led oil company Petrobras agreed to sell its 40 percent stake in the Santos Basin's BS-4 concession to OGX Petróleo e Gás Participações S.A. for $270 million, according to a securities filing.

** The chief executive of wireless hotspot provider ICOA Inc said his company has never had acquisition talks with Google Inc, and is contacting authorities about a "hoax" press release on Monday that said Google bought his company for $400 million.

** Aston Martin, purveyors of fast cars to a fictional British spy and to real-life billionaires, could be partly owned by India's Mahindra and Mahindra by the end of the week if the Mumbai tractor moguls have their way,a person with direct knowledge of the matter said on Monday. The source told Reuters that an initial 40-percent stake could rise to 50 percent for a total price unlikely to top $400 million.

** Russia's Nord Gold will increase its ownership of Toronto-listed subsidiary High River Gold to 87.9 percent under a share offer that could boost its free float and take it a step further to a premium London listing.

** A pension fund owned by Russia's rail monopoly could buy Russia's Absolut bank - valued at up to 12 billion roubles ($387 million) - from Belgian financial group KBC, which is selling assets as part of a drive to win regulators' support for state aid.

The pension fund, Blagosostoyanie, received an approach from KBC to take part in the sale process, its executive director Yuri Novozhilov told Reuters on Tuesday, adding he did not know if KBC had selected a winner.

** State conglomerate Russian Technologies is selling control in the world's leading titanium company through a management buyout. VSMPO-Avisma, which accounts for around a quarter of the world's output of the light metal used in aircraft construction, is being bought out by a joint venture between the company's management and state-affiliated Gazprombank.

** Family-owned conglomerate Haniel said it would sell down stakes in retailer Metro and drugs distributor Celesio to cut its debt to below 2 billion euros ($2.59 billion).

** Italy's Luxottica, the world's biggest premium eyewear maker, will spend 45 million euros ($58.19 million) to become a minority shareholder in optical retailer Salmoiraghi & Vigano.

** Norway's Telenor is in talks to merge its Indian operations with Tata Teleservices to gain a bigger foothold in the world's second-biggest mobile phone market, a source with direct knowledge of the situation said on Tuesday.

** Spain's bank restructuring fund called FROB confirmed on Tuesday that the country's third largest bank Caixabank will buy nationalised bank Banco de Valencia.