(Adds Fibria Celulose, TrailStone Group, Embraer, Shell, Carige, Orange, Daimler; Updates Sanlam, Melrose Industries, ACS, Cigna Fortum, Uber)
March 8 (Reuters) - The following bids, mergers, acquisitions and disposals were reported by 2100 GMT on Thursday:
** U.S. health insurer Cigna Corp struck a $52-billion deal to buy pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) Express Scripts Holding Co, looking for new ways to hold onto their profits as the industry faces greater scrutiny for rising healthcare costs.
** Royal Dutch Shell Plc and U.S. private equity firm Blackstone Group LP are working on a joint $10 billion bid for BHP Billiton Plc’s U.S. shale assets, Sky News said on Thursday.
** Melrose Industries’ 7 billion pound ($9.7 billion) hostile bid for engineering group GKN got a green light from its shareholders and the European Union on Thursday as its takeover attempt enters a critical stage.
** South Africa’s Exxaro Resources Ltd said it was interested in buying coal export quotas from the Gupta family’s Optimum Coal mine that is now in business rescue proceedings.
** Spain’s ACS and Italy’s Atlantia said they are in talks over their competing bids for Spanish toll road company Abertis and a source said they could decide to break up the company rather than press on with a costly takeover battle.
** Italian renewable energy group ERG has expressed interest in the solar power portfolio Terra Firma is looking to sell in the country, the company’s chief executive told Reuters.
** Shares in Slovenia’s Gorenje jumped by almost 9 percent after the household appliances maker announced it had received four non-binding bids from Asia to form a strategic partnership.
** Switzerland’s Julius Baer is forming a joint venture with Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), the latest foreign bank looking to tap Thailand’s growing wealth.
** Spain’s Telefonica is considering selling its Telefonica Deutschland unit, business magazine Wirtschaftswoche reported.
** J.M. Smucker Co is considering a sale of its baking brands, including Pillsbury, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
** Malaysian conglomerate DRB-Hicom Bhd said it was selling much of its non-industrial property assets and the entire hospitality portfolio for a total of 1.9 billion ringgit ($486.31 million).
** Leading shareholders in Orbotech are holding talks in the United States for the sale of a controlling stake in the Israeli technology firm, TheMarker financial news website reported.
** Carige’s shareholder Raffaele Mincione plans to boost his stake in the Italian lender from 5.4 percent and ask for the current board to be removed after he was denied a seat, two sources familiar with the matter said.
** Brazilian pulp producers Fibria Celulose SA and Suzano Papel e Celulose SA are close to announcing a tie-up, the head of the state development bank that owns a stake in both companies told newspaper Valor Economico.
** An agreement for Finland’s Fortum to buy a 46.65 percent stake in German energy group Uniper from E.ON could face intense scrutiny in Russia, Uniper’s Chief Executive Officer Klaus Schaefer told journalists.
** British insurer Aviva is considering acquisitions in Poland and Turkey, its chief executive said, as it reported a 2 percent rise in operating profit and said it planned to return 500 million pounds ($695 million) to shareholders.
** Finnish government said it had sold Raskone, a small truck maintenance company, to a Finnish firm Lease Deal Group for 7.7 million euros ($9.5 million).
** Spain’s ACS and Italy’s Atlantia are in talks over their competing bids for Spanish toll road company Abertis, the companies said, signaling a multi-billion euro takeover war could be nearing an end.
** Premier Oil is interested in increasing its 50 percent interest in the Catcher North Sea oilfield that produced first oil in December, Chief Executive Tony Durrant told Reuters.
** Daimler said it would deepen its cooperation with China’s BAIC Group in the area of new energy vehicles, even as rival Geely seeks to gain access to the German carmakers’ electric vehicle technologies.
** Southeast Asia’s biggest ride-hailing firm, Grab, is in advanced negotiations to buy parts of Uber Technologies Inc’s business in the region, said a source with knowledge of the talks, in what would be Uber’s second retreat from an Asian market.
** Sanofi and Evotec said they had started exclusive talks over accelerating research into the treatment of infectious diseases, and added that they would form a new open innovation platform in this area, led by Evotec.
** South Africa’s biggest insurer Sanlam Ltd said it will buy the rest of Moroccan insurer SAHAM Finances for $1 billion, as part of its plan to become a Pan-African insurance group.
** India will invite initial bids for a stake sale in state-run carrier Air India in the next couple of weeks, Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Choubey said during an airshow in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad.
** China’s CNPC said its international unit, PetroChina International Co, has agreed to buy a 30-percent stake in Brazilian oil products trader TT Work, as it pushes to expand abroad.
** Nissan Motor Co said the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors alliance had no plans to change cross-shareholding ratios of its member companies, after Reuters reported that it was in talks with Renault over a closer tie-up.
** Rent-A-Center Inc is in active talks with multiple parties for a possible buyout, the rent-to-own furniture retailer said on Wednesday.
** Bicecorp SA, one of Chile’s largest financial institutions, said on Wednesday it acquired Grupo de Inversiones Suramericana’s life annuity business for $230 million, in a move to boost its insurance unit’s product offerings.
** Gases groups Linde and Praxair are pressing ahead with divestitures to facilitate their planned $85 billion merger and have asked potential buyers to present first-round bids this month, people close to the matter said.
** TrailStone Group, a start-up commodity merchant backed by private equity firm Riverstone Holdings LLC, has retained Tudor Pickering & Holt to sell or find strategic alternatives for its Tacoma, Washington refinery, two people familiar with the transaction said. (Compiled by Mrinalini Krothapalli and Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru)