Sept 18 The following bids, mergers, acquisitions and disposals were reported by 2000 GMT on Wednesday:
** China's Shuanghui International is close to securing shareholder approval for its $4.7 billion offer for Smithfield Foods Inc, which would be the biggest purchase of a U.S. company by a Chinese firm, ahead of the vote next week, three people familiar with the matter said. The deal needs the approval of just over 50 percent of Smithfield shareholders by a special meeting scheduled for Sept. 24.
** Canadian private equity firm Onex Corp is preparing to sell The Warranty Group, a provider of extended warranty contracts, which is expected to fetch more than $1 billion, two people familiar with the matter said this week. Onex has hired Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup to find a buyer for the business.
** Varde Management and Deutsche Bank have raised 108.6 million pounds ($172.7 million) from the sale of a 13.5 percent stake in British housebuilder Crest Nicholson. The two groups said the shares were sold at 320 pence each, a 4.1 percent discount to Tuesday's closing price. Following the placing Varde continues to hold approximately 20 percent of Crest's issued share capital, while Deutsche Bank's stake was reduced to around 9 percent.
** Russian oil producer Exillon Energy Plc said it may sell the company, two months after its founder, Kazakh businessman Maksat Arip, made an initial approach. Exillon said it had received additional preliminary and conditional approaches in relation to an acquisition. Arip, the company's largest shareholder with a 30.17 percent stake, had approached the company in late July.
** Rioglass Solar, the world's top maker of mirrors used in solar thermal power plants, will buy some solar assets from Germany's Siemens, one of Rioglass's co-owners said. Rioglass Solar has signed an agreement with Siemens to acquire its receiver technology and related manufacturing assets in the area of concentrated solar power for an undisclosed sum, buyout firm Vorndran Mannheims Capital said.
** Russian payment transfer company QIWI said it had filed a request with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to float almost 8.2 million shares already owned by its stakeholders. Internet group Mail.RU, which co-founded QIWI in 2007, and Japan's Mitsui & Co would reduce their stakes as a result of the float, market sources said.
** Russian gold miner Nord Gold said it had signed a binding letter of intent to buy a 50.01 percent interest in certain licences of a gold deposit in French Guiana from Columbus Gold Corp. Nord Gold said the acquired deposit contains inferred gold resources of 4.15 million ounces. The agreement stipulates that Nord Gold pay Columbus Gold $4.2 million in cash no later than May 21, 2014.
** Spain's state-rescued lender Bankia is in exclusive talks with the brokerage GVC to sell its own broker affiliate as part of its efforts to shore up capital, a source involved in the deal said. The sale, which the source said could be closed next week, is worth between 20 million and 40 million euros ($26.7 million-$53.4 million), according to media reports.
** Dubai's Mashreq will allow foreigners to own up to 20 percent of the bank's shares, it said in a bourse statement. Foreign investors currently own only 1.9 percent of the bank's shares, data from the Dubai Financial Market shows. About 20 percent of Mashreq's shares are free float, while the Al-Ghurair family holds a 70 percent stake, according to Reuters data.
** Ukraine-focused iron pellet producer Ferrexpo said it had acquired an $80 million stake in a Brazilian miner, as the firm attempts to expand beyond Eastern Europe. The FTSE 250 company said it had taken a 14.4 percent stake in Ferrous Resources, a privately-owned Brazilian producer with expansion plans in the mineral-rich state of Minas Gerais.
** Jordan's Hikma Pharmaceuticals said it was entering the Ethiopian market through a joint venture with Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi's MIDROC Group. London-listed Hikma said the joint venture, named HikmaCure, would establish an Ethiopian operating company, build a local manufacturing facility and begin marketing and distributing pharmaceutical products in Ethiopia. The two groups will provide up to $22.3 million each to the joint venture, Hikma said.
** The Belgian government is considering the sale of some of its 10.3 percent stake in French bank BNP Paribas to bring its sovereign debt level below 100 percent of annual economic output, two Belgian business newspapers reported. Selling around 3 percent of BNP Paribas would be sufficient to raise 2 billion euros to reduce the country's debt, business dailies De Tijd and L'Echo wrote.
** AT&T Inc is planning to announce that it will expand its Latin American reach for business customers through a collaboration with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim's America Movil. AT&T will be able to do business in 15 countries, including Argentina, Chile and Colombia, through connections with America Movil networks, according to a representative for AT&T. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The deal will also extend AT&T's reach to Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.
** Germany's Lanxess is considering selling three divisions as part of an overhaul to combat weak automotive demand. Lanxess, the world's largest maker of synthetic rubber for tires, said its Perlon-Monofil fibers business, its accelerators and antioxidant rubber chemicals business as well as its nitrile butadiene rubber operations would stand better chances with a new owner.
** London skyscraper the Heron Tower could be sold by its lenders as its owners struggle to agree a refinancing deal against the backdrop of a weak office lettings market, a source familiar with the talks said. The 46-storey tower is owned by a trust that includes developer Heron International led by property entrepreneur Gerald Ronson, the State General Reserve of Oman and Saudi investors.
** The U.S. Treasury has sold another block of shares in General Motors Co, reducing its stake to 7.3 percent as it moves toward exiting its holdings in the automaker by the end of March.
** Indian wind turbine maker Suzlon Energy Ltd has agreed to sell a 75 percent stake in its China manufacturing unit to Poly LongMa Energy (Dalian) Ltd for $28 million. Suzlon said it would retain the remainder 25 percent in Suzlon Energy Tianjin Ltd and operate in a joint venture with Poly LongMa.
** Real estate mogul Barry Sternlicht's Starwood Property Trust Inc is planning to buy the management arm of Waypoint Homes Inc to expand its single-family rental business, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing three people with knowledge of the deal.
** Winteam Pharmaceutical Group Ltd said on Wednesday it had acquired the entire issued share capital of Tongjitang Chinese Medicines Company for 2.64 billion yuan ($431.3 million).
** The Argentine government is preparing to offer $1.5 billion in cash to Spanish oil company Repsol in compensation for the 2012 nationalization of Argentina's main energy company, YPF, the newspaper La Nacion reported on Wednesday.
** Hedge fund Jana Partners LLC disclosed in a regulatory filing on Tuesday that it had acquired a 6.2 percent stake in grocery chain Safeway Inc. Jana said it has held talks with Safeway management about reviewing strategic alternatives for the Pleasanton, California-based company and that its shares are undervalued.