March 12 (Reuters) - The following bids, mergers, acquisitions and disposals were reported by 2000 GMT on Tuesday:
** Advent Software Inc, an accounting software company, is exploring a sale and has hired Frank Quattrone’s investment bank Qatalyst Partners to lead the effort, several people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
** STMicroelectronics and Ericsson have failed to find a buyer for their lossmaking wireless electronic chip joint venture and will now consider whether to close the business down, news service Bloomberg said on its website.
** Royal Bank of Scotland plans to further reduce its stake in Direct Line, taking advantage of a more than 20 percent rise in the UK insurer’s share price since it was floated last year.
** The banking unit of Ally Financial, the bailed-out auto lender that is 74 percent-owned by the U.S. government, is selling the majority of its mortgage servicing rights portfolio to Ocwen Financial Corp for $585 million, Ally said on Tuesday.
** A top shareholder in Cipla Medpro said on Tuesday it would ask India’s Cipla Ltd to raise its $500 million offer for South Africa’s third-largest generic drugs firm.
** Venezuelan opposition TV channel Globovision said on Monday it had accepted a buyout offer, calling its operations financially and politically unfeasible after rows with the government and high inflation.
** Insolvent German street light maker Hess is holding talks with potential investors with a view to finding a buyer for the scandal-hit company soon.
** The CEO of Intesa Sanpaolo said on Tuesday Italy’s biggest retail bank could cut its presence in Hungary, which he said had turned into a “nightmare” for the financial services sector.
** Russia will resume selling stakes in state firms in the second half of the year, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Tuesday, indicating possible slippage in the government’s ambitious privatisation programme.
** Canada’s Talisman Energy may pull out of shale gas operations in Poland, it said on Tuesday, a step that would make it the second big foreign player to withdraw from what had been seen as Europe’s most promising source of shale gas.
** Labrador Iron Mines Holdings Ltd said on Tuesday it had entered a strategic partnership with a subsidiary of India’s Tata Steel Ltd.
As part of the C$30 million ($29.2 million) deal, Labrador Iron Mines will sell a 51 percent stake in its Howse development-stage project to Tata Steel Minerals Canada.
** British medical services group Bupa and Poland’s top insurer PZU will battle several investment funds for Polish hospital group EMC Instytut Medyczny, sources close to the talks said.
** Carlyle Group LP and KKR & Co LP are among the bidders to have made first round offers to buy a minority stake in Thai Life Insurance Co Ltd, in a deal said to be worth about $500 million, according to people close to the auction.
** Yankee Candle Co Inc, the largest scented candle company in the United States, is being prepared for a sale by its private equity owner, three people familiar with the matter said on Monday. The company, acquired by Chicago-based buyout firm Madison Dearborn Partners for $1.6 billion in 2006, is working with Barclays and Bank of America Merrill Lynch on a sale process.
** Germany’s second biggest utility RWE AG has hired Goldman Sachs to sell its oil and gas exploration unit DEA, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
** South African media and e-commerce firm Naspers Ltd bought an 18.6 percent stake in Russian internet rival Avito Holdings with an agreed merger of their local classified businesses and $50 million in cash.
** Belgian bank and insurance group KBC Group SA said on Tuesday it had completed the sale of its 22 percent stake in NLB to the Republic of Slovenia for 2.77 million euros ($3.6 million).
** Swiss private bank EFG International AG is to sell its 20.25 percent stake in EFG Financial Products Holding AG to Raiffeisen’s private bank Notenstein for 70.2 million Swiss francs ($73.9 mln), the banks said on Tuesday.
** Nippon Paint Co Ltd said on Tuesday that Singaporean paint maker Wuthelam Holdings has withdrawn its bid to acquire a controlling stake in Japan’s No.2 paint supplier.
** Partly private Phuong Tay Bank said it plans to merge into Petrovietnam Finance Joint Stock Co Corp (PVFC) as part of the Vietnamese central bank’s scheme to restructure lenders saddled with mountains of bad debt.
** Commerzbank AG, Germany’s second-biggest lender, is exploring a sale of the UK property business of its mortgage unit Hypothekenbank Frankfurt International, the Financial Times reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.
** Integrated circuit maker Cadence Design Systems Inc said that it will buy privately held microprocessing company Tensilica for $380 million in an all-cash deal.
** Online coupon company WhaleShark Media said it was changing its name to RetailMeNot and acquiring the leading online coupon site in Holland, Actiepagina.nl.
The company did not disclose the dollar amount of the latest deal, but a person familiar with the matter said Actiepagina cost under $10 million.
** Fraport Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide AG , the operator of Frankfurt airport, is considering taking stakes in several airports, including airports in Brazil, Chief Financial Officer, Matthias Zieschang, said on Tuesday.
** Swiss banking heavyweight UBS AG is in talks with Italy’s Veneto Banca over the possible purchase of certain assets of hard-pressed asset manager Banca Intermobiliare , a source with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters.
** Administrators at British entertainment retailer HMV Group Plc will push to secure a rescue deal for the firm before a big quarterly rent bill becomes due at the end of March, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.
** Gulf Investment Corp (GIC) will invest $50 million in Virgin Mobile’s Middle East operation, a sign that the region may be ready to open up to more competition as the company looks to expand into new markets.
** State-controlled Finnish utility Fortum has hired banks to explore the sale of its power grids for an estimated 5 billion euros ($6.5 billion) in what would be the biggest Nordic deal for five years, four people familiar with the matter said.
** German gas firm VNG is planning to sell its gas transmission system operator Ontras, two people familiar with the matter said, aiming to cash in on lucrative infrastructure divestment in Europe. One of the sources said the asset could fetch between 800 million euros and 1 billion euros ($1.0-1.3 billion).
** Shire Plc, Britain’s third biggest drugmaker, increased its investment in rare diseases on Tuesday by acquiring privately held Swedish biotech firm Premacure, which is developing a drug for a potentially blinding eye disorder in premature babies. Shire did not reveal how much it was paying for the Uppsala-based business but said it would pay a sum upfront followed by contingent payments based on clinical development and commercial success.