(Adds Shell, Vale, Etihad Etisalat, America Movil and others; updates Exelon Corp)
April 30 (Reuters) - The following bids, mergers, acquisitions and disposals were reported by 2000 GMT on Wednesday:
** Bayer AG is offering to swap its animal health assets for Merck & Co Inc’s consumer healthcare business, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday, in a move that could give the German drugmaker a leg-up in the $14 billion auction of the Merck business.
** Exelon Corp said it would buy Pepco Holdings Inc for $6.83 billion, helping it overtake Duke Energy Corp as the biggest power distribution company in the United States.
** Sanofi SA is looking to sell a portfolio of older drugs that could fetch $7 billion-$8 billion, according to people familiar with the matter, yet another example of drugmakers trying to shed non-core assets and focus on high-growth areas.
** Australian mining firm Padbury Mining Ltd’s $6.5 billion deal to fund a new iron ore port and rail development on the resource-rich western coast has fallen through, the company said on Wednesday.
** French Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg said on Wednesday that his government would examine a request from Alstom SA unions to raise the state’s shareholding in the company, which is the subject of takeover talks.
Separately, the head of General Electric said that talks with the French government on its offer for Alstom’s energy assets had been “productive” and he expressed confidence that the deal would go through despite a potential rival offer from Germany’s Siemens.
** Swiss private bank J. Safra Sarasin has agreed to buy Morgan Stanley’s Swiss private banking unit, beefing up its business with the wealthy in the Middle East and Latin America.
** China Petrochemical Corp (Sinopec Group) said on Wednesday that it and state-owned power group China Huadian Corp have agreed to take a combined 15 percent stake in a liquefied natural gas project controlled by Malaysian state oil firm Petronas in Canada.
** Iran has terminated China National Petroleum Corp’s contract to develop the Azadegan oilfield after the Chinese energy giant ignored repeated appeals to work on it, Iranian news agency Shana said on Wednesday.
** India’s Jindal Steel and Power Ltd and JSW Steel Ltd are in competing talks to buy parts of insolvent Italian steelmaker Lucchini, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.
** German auto parts and tire maker Continental AG plans to buy the remainder of Emitec, a supplier of emissions technology, from GKN Plc.
** Linux operating system vendor Red Hat Inc said it would buy privately held storage systems provider Inktank Ceph Enterprise for $175 million to expand in the fast growing market for software-defined storage.
** An Indian court has temporarily halted generic drugmaker Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd’s $3.2 billion takeover of rival Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd until it decides on a petition for a probe into alleged insider trading.
** Mapletree Group, owned by Singapore’s state investor Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd, plans to partner with U.S-based Oakwood Worldwide in forming a joint venture in the serviced apartment business.
** Etihad Airways has signaled that it was ready to continue talks on a potential investment in Italy’s troubled Alitalia but it refuses to budge on tough conditions on debt restructuring and job cuts, a source close to the talks said on Wednesday.
** Israeli geothermal energy producer Ormat Industries said its U.S. subsidiary is examining the possibility of raising money by bringing in equity partners for a small number of assets in the United States.
** The banking foundation that is top shareholder in Banca Carige is awaiting clearance from Italy’s Treasury to cut its stake to 19 percent from 43.4 percent at present, the chairman of the not-for-profit entity said on Wednesday.
** Volkswagen AG is edging closer toward taking full control of its Swedish truck division Scania, after its buyout offer won broad support from shareholders and fell just short of an acceptance threshold.
** Hastings Funds Management and China Merchants Group have won a state government auction for a 98-year lease on Australia’s Port of Newcastle, the world’s biggest coal export terminal, paying a higher-than-expected A$1.75 billion ($1.62 billion).
** Indonesia’s PT Perusahaan Gas Negara Tbk said it will buy liquefied natural gas from BP Plc’s Tangguh plant for its two floating storage facilities to meet rising demand in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.
** A consortium of RRJ Capital and Temasek Holdings have agreed to invest 1.3 billion euros ($1.80 billion) in ING Groep’s European and Japanese insurance and investment management unit ahead of its planned IPO, the Dutch financial services firm said in a statement on Wednesday.
** Africa-focused oil and gas explorer Tullow Oil has sold majority stakes in two UK North Sea gas assets to Faroe Petroleum Plc for $75.6 million and said it was looking for buyers of other North Sea assets.
** The biggest investor in Salini Impregilo will reduce its stake in the Italian builder to around 75 percent from 90 percent by the end of the summer, Chief Financial Officer Massimo Ferrari said on Wednesday.
** Israeli mobile operator Pelephone signed a deal with Sweden’s Ericsson to supply equipment and build a fourth-generation (4G) network, its parent company said on Wednesday.
** Croatia’s state power board Hrvatska Elektroprivreda (HEP) said on Wednesday that it had received qualified bids for the construction of a 500-megawatt thermal power plant on the northern Adriatic, but declined to offer details until the bids were assessed.
** Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s proposed LNG Canada liquefied natural gas export plant in British Columbia tiptoed closer to reality on Wednesday, with the company signing a formalized partnership agreement with its three Asian partners, nudging the project into the next stage of development. Shell also boosted its stake in the project to 50 percent from 40 percent.
** Guinea’s President Alpha Conde said on Wednesday he hoped Brazilian miner Vale would bid to reclaim two iron ore permits, because the company had not been involved in the alleged corruption that led to their cancellation.
** Saudi Arabia’s Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) is in talks to acquire 20 percent of Etihad Atheeb Telecommunications through a rights issue by the loss-making telecom operator, according to a bourse statement on Wednesday.
** India’s Piramal Enterprises Ltd has agreed to buy a 9.99 percent stake in Shriram City Union Finance Ltd valued at about $130 million, its latest investment in a firm linked to the Chennai-based Shriram group.
** Latin America’s biggest phone company America Movil expects regulators to approve its deal to take control of Telekom Austria within two months, it said on Wednesday.
** Charter Communications, which lost out to Comcast Corp in a bid to acquire Time Warner Cable Inc , has withdrawn its slate of nominees to Time Warner Cable’s board. As part of a deal with Comcast announced on Monday to swap customers, Charter had withdrawn its slate, a Charter spokesman said on Wednesday.
** Grupo Argos, a Colombian holding company, is looking to invest in the energy sector elsewhere in Latin America later this year, its chief executive said on Wednesday.
** Lithuanian state-owned companies said they had asked the competition authority for approval to buy stakes in the Baltic state’s gas and power utilities from Germany’s E.ON .
** Reckitt Benckiser Group said on Wednesday it was no longer in active talks with Merck & Co about buying its consumer health business, leaving Germany’s Bayer as the leading contender for the $14 billion business.
** Lloyds Banking Group has reached an agreement to sell $500 million of shipping loans from its remaining ship finance portfolio as the British bank cuts sector exposure, finance and banking sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
** China’s commerce ministry has approved with conditions German liquid crystal maker Merck KGaA’s planned $2.6 billion takeover of UK-listed AZ Electronic Materials.
** Energizer Holdings Inc said it planned to separate into two publicly traded companies, one for batteries and other household products and the other for personal care brands such as Schick razors and Stayfree female hygiene products.
** The three brothers who own Fratelli Rossetti would consider selling part of the Italian luxury shoemaker to fund future expansion, while keeping the business founded by their father firmly under family control.
** ArcelorMittal SA, the world’s largest steelmaker, and Bekaert Group on Wednesday agreed to swap their stakes in their Brazil, Costa Rica and Ecuador ventures, part of a broader plan to extend a four-decade partnership in fast-growing markets, an executive said. ($1 = 0.59 British pounds) ($1 = 1.08 Australian dollars) ($1 = 0.72 euros) (Compiled by Avik Das and Ankit Ajmera in Bangalore)