Jan 8 (Reuters) - The following bids, mergers, acquisitions and disposals were reported by 2100 GMT on Wednesday:
** U.S. drugs wholesale group McKesson is preparing to offer concessions to hedge fund Elliott to save its planned acquisition of Germany-based peer Celesio, three people familiar with the deal said on Wednesday. Elliott, which has amassed a stake large enough to block the deal, has said it rejects the $8.3 billion bid in its current form.
** Activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp offered to buy Riverbed Technology Inc for about $3.08 billion in cash, a move analysts said was likely to trigger higher bids for the network equipment maker.
** Drugmaker Forest Laboratories Inc said it would buy specialty pharmaceutical maker Aptalis from private equity firm TPG Capital for $2.9 billion in a deal it promised would increase next year’s earnings, sending its shares up nearly 14 percent.
** Abu Dhabi will take full control of the UAE’ biggest oilfields when its decades-old venture with four western oil giants ends this weekend, while it weighs new partnerships that could include its long-term collaborators or Asian newcomers.
** JPMorgan Chase & Co, the world’s biggest dealer in over-the-counter metals derivatives, has added its metals futures brokerage to the sale of its physical commodities business, sources familiar with the matter said.
** Private equity-owned Skillsoft Ltd is exploring a sale that it hopes will value the provider of educational software at around $2 billion, including debt, according to several people familiar with the matter. Skillsoft, which was taken private in 2010 by Berkshire Partners LLC, Advent International Corp and Bain Capital LLC for $1.2 billion, is working with Deutsche Bank AG to find potential buyers, the people said on Tuesday.
** CEC Entertainment Inc, the parent of family restaurant and entertainment chain Chuck E. Cheese, is exploring a potential sale to private equity, according to people familiar with the matter. The Irving, Texas-based company, which has a market capitalization of around $760 million, is working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc and has been speaking with interested buyers over the last several months, the people said on Tuesday.
** Austrian lender Raiffeisen Bank International has decided not to sell its Hungarian unit for now, two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters on Wednesday, after media reports that such a deal could be imminent.
** Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd will buy another $250 million worth of BlackBerry Ltd’s convertible debentures, the companies said Wednesday, providing the struggling smartphone maker with much-needed cash.
** Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance is exploring a possible sale of its Russell Investments asset management business, which has $247 billion in assets under management, according to four people familiar with the situation. The Milwaukee-based insurer is discussing selling the Russell subsidiary because it has decided it is not a core part of its business, the people said on Tuesday.
** Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd offered to buy U.S. neurology drugs maker NuPathe Inc for $114 million plus milestone payments related to NuPathe’s Zecuity migraine treatment.
** Health insurer WellPoint Inc said on Tuesday it reached an agreement to sell 1-800 Contacts, its online contact lens business, to private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners in order to focus on its core insurance business. Financial terms of the deal and a separate transaction to sell a similar eye glasses business, glasses.com, to Luxottica Group were not disclosed.
** Troubled Italian bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena said on Wednesday it had sold its stake in medical technology group Sorin, as it continued planned asset sales to help return to profit and avoid nationalisation.
** Chinese recycling tycoon Chen Guangbiao dialed back his ambitious plans to buy The New York Times Co just over a week after making his intentions public. “The level of difficulty is great,” he said through a translator on Tuesday.
** Taiwan’s Eastern Media International Corp is bidding to buy Carlyle Group’s entire 61 percent stake in local TV company Eastern Broadcasting which is worth around $240 million, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.
** Singapore’s Tigerair is selling its Philippine business to Cebu Pacific, the archipelago’s biggest airline, leaving just three main players in a market flush with planes but thin on passengers.
** Facebook Inc is buying India-based Little Eye Labs, a startup that builds performance analysis and monitoring tools for mobile Android apps, in a move that marks the social networking giant’s first deal in the country.
** Private equity firm Dering Capital is in advanced talks to buy French broadcasting masts operator TDF, and is the last remaining bidder after a Canadian consortium dropped out, Les Echos reported on Wednesday.
** South Korean online news outlet Edaily on Wednesday reported that Roche Holding AG, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd and AstraZeneca Plc were among parties in talks to acquire the biotech firm Celltrion Inc .
** Norwegian paper firm Norske Skog sold the remaining 49 percent of its Brazilian operations to a consortium of Chilean investors controlled by Group BO/Pathfinder for $37 million, it said on Wednesday. The firm already sold 51 percent of the business to the same investors last June.
** Singapore’s Blumont Group Ltd, which suffered a sudden implosion in its share price in October, has canceled its proposed acquisition of Hudson Minerals Holdings Pte Ltd, which has interests in an Indonesian iron ore exploration company.
** Dubai-listed logistics group Aramex is eyeing acquisitions in South Africa and east Africa in the second half of this year, its founder and vice-chairman Fadi Ghandour said on Wednesday.
** Diageo Plc and celebrity rapper turned business mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs have jointly bought luxury U.S. tequila brand DeLeon, hoping to repeat the success they have had with the company’s fast-growing Ciroc vodka.
** Oil and gas company Hess Corp said it filed with regulators to spin off its gas station and convenience store network, the latest business the company is shedding in response to a campaign by activist investor Elliott Management.
** Amazon.com Inc signed a deal allowing it to stream CBS Corp’s new science-fiction thriller series “Extant” four days after it is broadcast on television. The show, starring Halle Berry, is about an astronaut, who comes home after spending a year alone in space, and tries to reconnect with her husband and son.