October 2, 2013 / 10:13 AM / in 4 years

Deals of the day- Mergers and acquisitions

(Updates Cargill, Portugal Telecom, Monsanto, Alrosa; Adds BlackBerry, NYSE Euronext, Uralkali, Astex and others)

Oct 2 (Reuters) - The following bids, mergers, acquisitions and disposals were reported by 2000 GMT on Wednesday:

** The possibility of a second offer for BlackBerry Ltd reversed a slide in its stock price on Wednesday after the struggling smartphone maker said it expected to record $400 million in pre-tax charges related to cuts announced last month.

** Brazil’s Grupo Oi SA, facing growing competition from foreign carriers, agreed to combine with Portugal Telecom SGPS SA to form a new company with more than 100 million subscribers and almost $19 billion in annual revenue.

The planned combination is unlikely to face opposition from Brazil’s antitrust regulators, a Brazilian government source told Reuters.

** IntercontinentalExchange Inc and NYSE Euronext said they moved a step closer to ICE finalizing its proposed takeover of the Big Board operator after a European regulatory group said it would not object to the deal.

** Cargill Inc, one of the world’s leading cocoa traders, is in the final stages of a deal to buy Archer Daniels Midland Co’s cocoa business, sources familiar with the discussions said, creating a price-setting global giant.

** Russia pushed ahead with its drive to raise cash from state-owned assets, deciding to cut its stake in diamond miner AK Alrosa OAO in an up to $1.8 billion share sale that is the gem industry’s largest in over a century.

** Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, reported a deeper quarterly loss as seed sales slipped, and announced the acquisition of a high-tech climate data firm that it touted as a “transformational” growth engine. Investors initially appeared unimpressed with the $930 million purchase of Climate Corp and instead eyed Monsanto’s 2014 profit forecast and a drop in gross profit in its key corn and soybean seed business in the latest quarter.

** A large stake in Russian potash producer Uralkali OAO is likely to be sold to one of several local bidders, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

** Hedge fund Sarissa Capital, a large shareholder of Astex Pharmaceuticals Inc, opposed the sale of the biotechnology company to Japan’s Otsuka Holdings Co. Sarissa, founded by activist investor Alex Denner, a former associate of billionaire Carl Icahn, said Otsuka’s $886 million, or $8.50 per share, offer undervalued Astex.

** Shareholders in Dutch telecoms group KPN approved the sale of its German unit E-Plus to Spanish rival Telefonica SA for 8.55 billion euros ($11.6 billion), paving the way for it to step up investment and resume dividend payments.

An independent foundation with the power to block America Movil’s proposed 7.2 billion-euro offer for KPN said it would abstain from a vote to approve the sale of German unit E-Plus.

** Russia’s top oil producer Rosneft has signed an agreement to buy into the Russian assets of Sweden’s Lundin Petroleum AB, increasing its upstream asset base, Rosneft head Igor Sechin said. Under the deal, Rosneft acquired 51 percent in Petroresurs - a joint venture of trading house Gunvor and Lundin with 70 and 30 percent respectively - which owns exploration licence for the offshore Lagansky Block, located in the north Caspian area.

** Poland may need to delay the sale of its controlling stake in real estate group PHN to update the valuation of its assets, threatening its privatisation goal for this year, two sources familiar with the plans said. Poland’s treasury ministry, which oversees state assets, aimed to sell the controlling stake to a strategic investor by the end of this year as part of its plan to raise 5 billion zlotys ($1.6 billion) from privatisations this year.

** Italian state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) is considering buying a majority stake in Finmeccanica SpA’s power engineering unit Ansaldo Energia and could file an offer shortly, two sources close to the matter told Reuters.

** Serbia will put 179 struggling state-controlled companies up for sale this month in an effort to eradicate subsidies and curb the country’s budget deficit, Economy Minister Sasa Radulovic said.

** Activist investor Daniel Loeb’s Third Point LLC has raised its stake in Sotheby’s and called for the resignation of the auctioneer’s chief executive and chairman on concerns about the company’s leadership and strategic direction.

** Five local prospective bidders are conducting due diligence accounting checks on rescued Spanish bank NCG Banco and a U.S. investment fund is also looking at the bank ahead of a possible auction.

** Russia’s No. 2 crude oil producer Lukoil wants to leave a Russian consortium developing a large oil project in Venezuela, the Kommersant daily reported, citing sources close to the project. Lukoil is developing heavy oil in Venezuela’s Orinoco basin as part of the Junin-6 consortium, led by Russian state oil major Rosneft.

** Italian energy company Eni SpA wants to hive off its 50 percent stake in the German natural gas transmission networks it co-owns with utility EnBW, a German newspaper reported. Either EnBW or a consortium of EnBW and its main public-sector shareholders are likely to buy Eni’s stake in the gas networks holding comprising Gasversorgung Sueddeutschland and Terranets BW, newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung said, without specifying its sources. The deal could be worth a mid triple-digit million euro amount, the paper said.

** GDF Suez SA is in talks with Japan’s Mitsui & Co over the sale of 28 percent of a company that owns most of its power plants in Australia as well as its distribution business in the country, business daily Les Echos reported. Mitsui has offered A$434 million ($407 million) for those assets, and could top this up with a results-related premium of up to $47 million, the paper wrote, without naming its sources.

** Dutch insurer Delta Lloyd NV said it would sell its Belgian banking operations, which analysts estimate to be worth about 300 million euros ($406 million), so it can build up its Belgian life insurance and pensions business.

** The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) has bought a 2 percent stake in Europe’s biggest online fashion retailer Zalando, continuing a push into e-commerce investment for the fund. Berlin-based Zalando said OTPP took the stake as part of a 4 percent capital increase at the group. Danish fashion magnate Anders Holch Povslen, who bought a 10 percent stake in Zalando in August, also took part in Wednesday’s capital increase to keep his share at 10 percent.

** BNP Paribas SA has no interest in taking over German lender Commerzbank AG, the French bank’s Chief Executive Jean-Laurent Bonnafe said. BNP has been mentioned as a potential suitor for Germany’s second-biggest lender.

** Latin American precious metals firm Hochschild Mining said it planned to raise up to $96 million to buy the remaining 40 percent stakes in its Peruvian assets for up to $280 million. The Lima-based company, which currently holds a 60 percent interest in the Peruvian Pallancata mine and the Inmaculada project assets, said it would acquire International Minerals Corp mainly for its 40 percent interest in the jointly-owned assets.

** Greece’s Aegean Airlines SA is set to secure European Union approval for its second bid for Olympic Air after convincing competition regulators its rival is likely to close down if the deal is blocked, two sources with knowledge of the issue said. Aegean has said the proposed 72 million-euro ($96.38 million) acquisition is crucial for the viability of both airlines.

** Swiss generic drugmaker Acino Holding AG said it has accepted a takeover offer from Avista Capital Partners and Nordic Capital valuing the company at about 398 million Swiss francs ($439 million). Acino, which makes a patch for the symptomatic treatment of mild to moderate forms of Alzheimer dementia, said the sale will give the company funds to expand its business, drive sales growth and strengthen its competitive position.

** Dutch real estate holding company Kardan NV, the top shareholder of Warsaw-listed real estate group Globe Trade Centre SA, is looking to sell the 27.75 percent stake to help pay off its debt pile, GTC and Kardan said. Kardan said it expected the sale to take place before the end of the year, although it warned the success would depend on the terms of the binding offers.

** The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, in which three private equity firms recently bought stakes, may consider an initial public offering or a strategic sale over the next few years as part of an exit strategy for investors, its chief executive said. The funding would allow the company to accelerate its growth plans in southern California and north Asia as it seeks to double its revenue from directly-owned and franchised-run stores in five years to a total of $1 billion, Mel Elias, also the president of the Los Angeles-based firm, told Reuters.

** Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, controlled by Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, is planning to float its healthcare and beauty retail business Watsons within the next 12 to 18 months, a Hong Kong newspaper reported. The Hong Kong Economic Times, quoting market sources, said the initial public offering could raise between $8 million and $10 billion.

** Tesco Plc will inject retail assets and HK$4.325 billion ($558 million) in cash into a hypermarket joint venture with China Resources Enterprise Ltd, the Chinese state-backed firm said. China Resources will hold 80 percent of the venture, while Tesco will take 20 percent, according to a filing to the Hong Kong bourse.

** La Quinta Inns & Suites has attracted interest from a number of potential suitors that could value the Blackstone Group LP-owned budget hotel chain at as much as $4.5 billion, three sources with knowledge of the matter said this week. Firms that are looking at La Quinta include hospitality holding companies Choice Hotels International Inc and Hospitality Properties Trust, as well as private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC, the sources said.

** Canadian fertilizer company Agrium Inc said on Tuesday that it has completed its purchase of Viterra Inc’s Canadian farm retail stores. Agrium, already the biggest U.S. retail seller of fertilizer, chemicals and seed, will get 210 stores across Western Canada from Glencore Xstrata, which acquired Viterra in 2012. ($1 = 0.74 euros) ($1 = 1.06 Australian dollars) ($1 = 7.75 Hong Kong dollars) ($1 = 0.9063 Swiss francs) (Compiled by Aby Jose Koilparambil)

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