Sept 20 (Reuters) - The following bids, mergers, acquisitions and disposals were reported by 1000 GMT on Friday:
** UK state-backed Royal Bank of Scotland said it raised 630 million pounds ($1 billion) by selling a 20 percent stake in Direct Line, the latest stage in a European Union-ordered disposal of Britain’s biggest motor insurer. The sale was made at 210 pence a share, representing a 3.7 percent discount to Direct Line’s closing price on Thursday, and leaves RBS holding 427.4 million shares, a 28.5 percent stake.
** A consortium led by private equity firm Corsair has emerged as the front runner to buy 315 branches being sold by Royal Bank of Scotland, three sources with knowledge of the deal told Reuters. RBS executives are expected to rubber-stamp the decision later on Friday, the sources said. U.S.-based Corsair is bidding along with fellow private equity house Centerbridge and other investors, including the Church of England’s investment fund and Standard Life Investments.
** British insurance broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group Plc said it would acquire the reinsurance brokerage business of Towers Watson & Co for $250 million in cash. JLT said Towers Watson’s reinsurance brokerage business would be merged with JLT’s reinsurance business and would be branded for a transitional period as JLT Towers Re. The combined business would generate revenue of $266 million and would be present in 17 countries, the company said.
** Spanish oil company Cepsa has made an indicative bid for Coastal Energy of between 1.7 billion and 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion-$2.7 billion), financial newspaper Expansion reported, citing unnamed market sources. Cepsa and Strategic Resources (Global), wholly owned by private equity investment and advisory firm Jynwel Capital Ltd, would make a joint offer, Canadian newspaper Financial Post had reported on Monday citing documents.
** Swiss industrial group OC Oerlikon has made a bid for Sulzer’s coating unit Metco, the world’s largest maker of thermal spray coatings used in the car, chemical and energy industries. Sulzer hopes the Metco sale will fetch about 800 million Swiss francs ($880 million), two people familiar with the process told Reuters. Aside from Oerlikon, Sulzer has approached peers including British Bodycote, U.S-based Praxair and Japanese IHI Corp, these people said.
** French group LVMH, best known for brands such as Louis Vuitton, Celine, Fendi and Kenzo, is buying a majority stake in British upmarket shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood’s company for an undisclosed sum as the company aims to reinforce its stable of hot young designers.
** Hungary is in talks to nationalize six or seven utility companies as part of a drive to lower energy prices and revive a struggling economy, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. The move is the latest attempt by Orban to increase the power of the state, against the trend in much of the rest of Europe.
** Singapore-based Albedo Ltd said on Thursday that it has agreed to a S$774 million ($621 million) takeover by a company controlled by Malaysian businessman Danny Tan in a deal that will see Albedo join international property developers buying up land in Malaysia’s sought-after Iskandar region. Albedo plans to issue 34.55 billion new shares at S$0.0224 ($0.02) per share to Tan’s Infinite Rewards Inc, equal to about 95 percent of the enlarged Albedo’s stock.
** Brazil’s planned auction of its biggest-ever oil discovery attracted only a quarter of the interest expected by the government on Thursday after many of the large, wealthy oil companies with experience in the region declined to sign up for the sale. With Exxon Mobil Corp, BP Plc, BG Group Plc, Chevron Corp and other investor-owned oil companies choosing to stay away, Asian state-owned companies such as India’s Oil & National Gas Corp Ltd, Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional, or Petronas, and China’s CNOOC Ltd dominate the list of 11 companies that agreed to pay the 2.05 million real ($931,818) registration fee.
** Canadian miner HudBay Minerals hopes to buy at least one greenfield project in the next year, the company’s Chief Executive David Garofalo told Reuters on Thursday. He said higher industry costs and lower metal prices mean medium-sized companies such as HudBay are better positioned than ever to buy up small exploration firms. He declined to mention which firms HudBay is interested in.
** Spanish builder Dragados has received acceptances from the majority of Pol-Aqua shareholders in its bid for the remaining 34 percent stake in the Polish construction company it did not already own, parent company ACS said on Thursday. After this acquisition, Dragados has a 96.18 percent stake in Pol-Aqua. Pol-Aqua will now be taken off the Warsaw Stock Exchange after a forced purchase of the remaining shares.
** Seven hospital systems in New Jersey and Pennsylvania will form what executives say will be the largest U.S. healthcare alliance in the country. Called AllSpire Health Partners, the alliance will allow the member institutions to save on costs and share medical expertise, the hospital systems said on Thursday. The alliance will include such systems as the Hackensack University Health Network in New Jersey and the Lehigh Valley Health Network in Pennsylvania and have combined annual revenue of $10.5 billion.
** Belgian financial group Dexia has entered into exclusive talks with New York Life Investments to sell its asset management unit, it said late on Thursday. The group did not say how much New York Life Investments planned to offer. ($1 = 0.62 British pounds) ($1 = 0.74 euros) ($1 = 1.25 Singapore dollars) ($1 = 2.20 Brazilian reals) (Compiled by Aby Jose Koilparambil)