February 20, 2014 / 6:00 AM / in 4 years

UPDATE 1-Market Chatter-Corporate finance press digest

Feb 20 (Reuters) - The following corporate finance-related stories were reported by media:

* A handful of consumer and healthcare companies including Bayer AG and Novartis are exploring a deal for Merck & Co Inc’s consumer healthcare business, as they seek to gain scale in a fragmented industry, according to several people familiar with the matter.

* Private equity firm Blackstone Group and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC are in advanced talks to acquire a minority stake in Kronos Inc that could value the resources management software firm at around $4.5 billion, two people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

* France’s EDF is seeking to sell 70 percent of Italian unit Edison’s wind farm operations as it looks to bring on board a financial partner to help to fund expansion, three sources close to the matter said on Wednesday.

* German diversified healthcare group Fresenius is considering making a bid for the medical nutrition unit of France’s Danone in what could be a 4 billion euro ($5.50 billion) deal, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

* ITC, India’s largest cigarette maker, is firming up plans to foray into non-carbonated beverages and dairy businesses next fiscal to establish itself as one of the largest food companies in the country, the Economic Times reported, citing a senior industry executive aware of the plans.()

* Furiex Pharmaceuticals Inc, which is developing a drug for irritable bowel syndrome, has put itself up for sale, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

* The owners of Finland’s Paroc are expected to launch a sale of the insulation material maker which could fetch more than 650 million euros ($894 million), three sources familiar with the matter said.

* Repsol and Argentina are poised to sign a $5 billion compensation deal that will draw a line under a bitter legal dispute that has raged since Buenos Aires expropriated the Spanish energy group’s assets in the country two years ago, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the negotiations. ()

* State-run Korea Electric Power Corp has appointed Barclays Plc to sell some of its offshore assets amid pressure from the nation’s lawmakers to reduce debt, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. ()

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