Oct 25 (Reuters) - The following bids, mergers, acquisitions and disposals were reported by 2100 GMT on Friday:
** The trading arm of China’s Guangzhou city government is to buy three quarters of Hong Kong’s Chong Hing Bank Ltd for about HK$11.64 billion ($1.5 billion), underscoring the island’s attraction for mainland and foreign lenders alike. Family-run Chong Hing is the second bank in Hong Kong, Asia’s sixth-biggest loan market, to receive offers recently and takeover talk is also surrounding Wing Hang Bank Ltd.
** Telecom Italia is considering a capital increase and the scrapping of its dividend amongst the options for overhauling its heavily indebted balance sheet, two sources close to the matter said on Friday.
** Vivendi has reached a deal to buy out partner Lagardere’s 20 percent stake in pay-television operator Canal+ France for an undisclosed amount, according to French magazine le Nouvel Observateur.
** Private equity firm Wind Point Partners is exploring a sale of Hearthside Food Solutions LLC, the largest food contract manufacturer and largest privately held bakery in the United States, three people familiar with the matter said this week. Wind Point has asked Barclays Plc to run an auction for Hearthside, hoping it can fetch more than $1 billion, the people said, asking not to be identified as the sale process is confidential.
** Two top U.S. law firms are in advanced merger discussions to create one of the 10 largest in the country, according to the firms’ chairmen. San Francisco-based Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe is expected to sign a letter of intent next week to join with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, a source with direct knowledge of the discussions said.
** The Italian government plans to start selling state-owned assets by the end of the year to reduce its debts, with a stake in oil and gas major Eni top of the list, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
** Italy’s Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) is considering offering part of its stakes in electricity grid operator Terna and gas network operator Snam to investors, the head of the state investment agency said on Friday.
** Rio Tinto has agreed to sell its majority stake in Australia’s third-largest thermal coal mine to Glencore Xstrata and Japan’s Sumitomo Corp for just over $1 billion, pushing ahead with plans to focus on larger, core operations. Rio put its 50.1 percent stake in the Clermont mine in Queensland on the block earlier this year, but appetite had been considered by industry advisers to be weak, given a poor outlook for coal prices and high costs in Australia.
** Japan’s Line Corp, creator of the fast growing social messaging app Line, may choose an overseas exchange for an expected initial public offering next year, banking sources with knowledge of the matter said. One of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the offering could value Line, a subsidiary of South Korea’s Naver Corp, at around $10 billion.
** Maple Leaf Foods Inc launched an auction for its bakery company Canada Bread Co, targeting Grupo Bimbo , one of the world’s largest bread makers, as well as private equity, several people familiar with the matter said. Maple Leaf said on Monday that it would explore selling its 90 percent stake in Toronto-based Canada Bread, a global company with a C$1.75 billion ($1.68 billion) market value, in a review process that is expected to be completed by early 2014.
** Private equity firm Aquiline Holdings LLC is exploring a sale of Clear2Pay, a Belgian financial services electronic payments company it invested in four years ago, according to two people familiar with the matter. New York-based Aquiline has not yet hired a bank to oversee the sale, which could fetch around 400 million euros ($552 million), said one of the sources, who wished to remain anonymous because they are not permitted to speak to the media.
** The New York Times Co said on Thursday that it had closed the sale of The Boston Globe to Boston Red Sox owner John Henry after a Massachusetts judge lifted a temporary injunction halting the deal. Henry agreed to buy the Globe and its sister newspaper, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, for $70 million, a fraction of the price the New York Times paid for the papers 20 years ago.
** Saputo Inc, Canada’s largest dairy producer, looked likely to triumph in the battle for Australia’s Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Company Holdings Ltd (WCB) after hiking its bid by 14 percent to A$449 million ($430 million). Saputo’s A$8 per share offer trumps separate approaches from WCB’s two largest shareholders, and won a recommendation from WCB’s directors.
** Career Education Corp said it would sell its European education business to private equity firm Apax Partners for about $305 million. The deal - valued at more than Career Education’s market capitalization - includes its entire international schools business, comprising the Paris-based INSEEC Group and the International University of Monaco.
** Asia private equity firm RRJ Capital, founded by ex-Goldman Sachs and Hopu Management dealmaker Richard Ong, has invested a further $248 million in ING Groep’s U.S. insurance unit, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. RRJ acquired the stake from ING, which sold a further 38 million shares in its U.S. insurance unit ING US raising $1.12 billion on Thursday.
** China’s Shunfeng Photovoltaic International Ltd has signed a preliminary deal to buy the main China unit of Suntech Power, two sources close to the matter said. The framework agreement with Wuxi Suntech’s administrator brings the closely watched restructuring of the firm’s $1.75 billion debt closer to completion after Suntech Power defaulted on a $541 million dollar convertible bond in March.
** New Zealand’s Superannuation Fund said it entered a conditional agreement to buy a 17 percent stake in retirement village operator Metlifecare for NZ$126 million ($105 million).
** British sports marketing group Chime Communications Plc is to boost its presence in motor racing by buying Just Marketing Inc for $71 million, a deal that has cost it the support of its largest shareholder WPP. WPP, the world’s largest advertising group, could sell its 20 percent after criticizing the takeover and suggesting that Chime should focus on growing its existing businesses.
** DuPont said on Thursday that it would spin off its titanium dioxide unit into a separately traded public company within 18 months, yielding to intense pressure from Wall Street to divest the volatile business. Spinning off the performance chemicals business, which also sells refrigerants, would allow DuPont to focus more on specialty materials and agriculture, two growth areas.
** French retailer Carrefour SA hired two investment banks to prepare an initial public offering for its Brazil unit, according to a report published on the website of business magazine Exame late on Thursday.
** Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd said on Thursday that its largest shareholder, Pershing Square Capital Management, is selling 5.97 million of the CP shares it manages, via a public offering.