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  • HSBC advances on Nedbank. HSBC (HBC) confirmed it's in exclusive talks with Anglo-South African insurer Old Mutual (OTCPK:ODMTY) to buy up to 70% of South Africa's Nedbank (OTCPK:NDBKY) in a deal that could be worth as much as $6.8B. It's unclear whether a deal would receive regulatory clearance in South Africa, where officials said it was still too early in the process to comment. The Nedbank stake would allow HSBC to boost its emerging markets exposure and grow its foothold in Africa. Premarket: HBC +0.9% (7:00 ET).
  • Potential suitors circle as Potash snubs BHP. Sinochem, the Chinese-state owned chemical group, and Vale (NYSE:VALE), the world's biggest iron-ore exporter, have reportedly contacted Potash's (NYSE:POT) board with initial inquiries about holding merger talks. Other companies have also made preliminary contact with Potash, though talks may not materialize. While talks with potential suitors could eventually help fend off BHP Billiton's (NYSE:BHP) unsolicited offer, an offer which Potash flatly rebuffed this morning, the strategy could also backfire; some analysts think a tie-up with Sinochem could hurt future flows and send Potash's stock price down as a result. Premarket: POT +1.6%, BHP +1.7% (7:00 ET).
  • Blackstone bets on China's booming housing market. Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX) reached a deal with Great Eagle, one of Hong Kong’s largest property developers, to build high-end apartments in China, marking Blackstone's first significant investment in China's booming housing market. The project will include more than 1,000 new homes and over 400 hotel rooms, and is consistent with Blackstone's efforts to focus its investments in developing markets, particularly China and India.
  • Brookfield Infrastructure's prime acquisition. Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (NYSE:BIP) will buy the 60% of Prime Infrastructure Group it doesn't already own in a deal that values the Australian firm at A$1.6B ($1.4B). The acquisition will create a global infrastructure company worth more than $2.5B. Premarket: BIP +3.8% (7:00 ET); Prime Infrastructure closed +20.8% in Australian trading.
  • Foster's froths on beer buyout rumors. Shares of Foster's Group (OTC:FBRWY) closed up 7.6% in Australian trading on speculation SABMiller (OTCPK:SBMRY) or Japan's Asahi Breweries could make a bid for Foster's Group's beer operations. Sources said SABMiller and Asahi are still considering their options, and haven't yet decided whether to make formal offers which analysts expect to top $10B. Foster's announced earlier this year that it plans to split its beer and wine operations.
  • Miners may be the winners in Aussie election saga. Australia's Labor Party failed to win a clear majority in the weekend's federal elections, marking Australia's first hung parliament in 70 years. This is potentially good news for miners, as a government formed by the Liberals would scrap the country's controversial mega-mining tax, which has already been watered down once. As political coalitions begin to take shape, keep an eye on firms like Rio Tinto (RTP), BHP Billiton (BHP) and Xstrata (OTC:XSRAF). Premarket: RTP +1.9%, BHP +1.7%, AA +1.2% (7:00 ET).
  • Campbell eyes the cookie jar. Campbell Soup (NYSE:CPB) may make a £1.5B ($2.3B) bid for the biscuit-making operations of the U.K.'s United Biscuits. Private equity owners Blackstone (BX) and PAI Partners were considering selling the company for over £2B, according to earlier media reports, but apparently would consider a separate offer for the biscuit division because of lack of interest in the whole company.
  • AIG aircraft unit repays $4B in aid. ILFC, AIG's (NYSE:AIG) aircraft leasing unit, paid back nearly $4B in government aid after raising new debt from investors, sources said. The repayment reduced the principal balance of the government loan to just over $15B, its lowest level since the March 2009 restructuring of government aid.
  • Content providers reluctantly embrace online viewing. Starting tomorrow, customers of Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) will for the first time be able to watch television shows from several cable networks through Dish's new video portal website. The rollout signals a turnaround may be starting among content providers, who thus far have been relatively slow to adopt the "TV Everywhere" concept pioneered by Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX).
  • Korean pension fund aims for U.S. pipeline stake. South Korea's state-run National Pension Service said it's looking to acquire a 23% stake in U.S. pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline from Chevron (NYSE:CVX). Chevron puts its pipeline stake up for sale in March and will likely select a preferred bidder in the next couple weeks. The stake is valued at 1T won ($845M).
  • Mortgage fraud creeps back. Mortgage fraud, which was on the decline in the two years after its 2006 peak, is on the rise again. In 2009, mortgage fraud was up 17%, accounting for $14B in loans, or roughly 0.7% of all mortgage loans made in the U.S. Though lawmakers did tighten lending rules after the housing market collapse, this hasn't deterred scammers as much as prompted them to create more complex schemes.
  • Friday's failures. It was a busy Friday for regulators as they shuttered eight banks (I & II, III, IV, V & VI, VII, VIII), bringing this year's failure count to 118 so far. The closures, including ShoreBank of Chicago - the subject of a high-profile bank rescue in May - are expected to cost the FDIC's deposit insurance fund a total of $473.5M.

Today's Markets

  • In Asia, Japan -0.7% to 9117. Hong Kong -0.4% to 20889. China -0.1% to 2639. India flat at 18409.
  • In Europe, at midday, London +0.8%. Paris +1.0%. Frankfurt +0.5%.
  • Futures: Dow +0.4%. S&P +0.6%. Nasdaq +0.7%. Crude +0.2% to $73.98. Gold flat at $1228.70.

Monday's Economic Calendar

Seeking Alpha's Market Currents team contributed to this post.


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