Deal News: AOL's Bold HuffPo Buy

by: Alacra Pulse Check Blog
By Sheena Lee

Deal of the Day: AOL is buying online news hub Huffington Post in a $315 million deal. After the acquisition closes later this year, Arianna Huffington will run AOL’s growing array of content, which includes popular technology sites Engadget, TechCrunch, local news sites and online mapping service Mapquest. (NASDAQ:CNBC)

Street analysts have yet to weigh in on the deal, but industry analysts and bloggers are impressed by the boldness of the move.

“This deal is a good one for both sides,” said Reuters’ Felix Salmon. “AOL gets something it desperately needs: a voice and a clear editorial vision. It’s smart, and bold, to put Arianna (Huffington) in charge of all AOL’s editorial content…”

All Things D’s Peter Kafka said both companies are trying to do the same thing: Make a lot of Web stuff at a low price, and sell ads against it. “AOL is pushing its workers very hard to make more content it can sell. Huffpo is a content-making machine.”

Om Malik at GigaOM is not convinced. “…when you get over the initial ka-pow reaction and start thinking about the deal, not everything adds up.” He thinks it is a great deal for Arianna Huffington, but does not solve AOL’s advertising woes. Malik had predicted MSNBC might buy HuffPo this year.

Alacra Pulse noted last week that Business Insider thought HuffPo would make an attractive acquisition for Demand Media (DMD).

For latest analyst comment on the deal, click here.

Deal Update: Danaher Corporation (NYSE:DHR) agreed to buy Beckman Coulter (NYSE:BEC), a maker of diagnostic research equipment for biomedical companies, for about $5.8 billion in cash. The price is 45 percent above Beckman’s stock price on Dec. 9, before reports of a potential deal emerged. (DealBook) Alacra mentioned the deal possibility in December.

Deal Update: A successful end may be near for the merger talks between Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE:SNY) and Genzyme (GENZ). The two companies are in the final stages of discussions over what would likely be a $19 billion takeover of Genzyme by Sanofi. The talks have taken longer than expected because of due diligence work on Sanofi’s part, as the French drug maker continues to pore over Genzyme’s books. (DealBook)

Deal Update: Petrobras (NYSE:PBR), the state-controlled Brazilian oil giant, said it had broken off talks with the Italian energy company Eni about buying a stake in Galp Energia. (DealBook)

Other Deal Activity:

Offshore drilling specialist Ensco (NYSE:ESV) said it would acquire Pride International (NYSE:PDE) of Houston for $7.3 billion in cash and stock, creating the second-largest offshore driller in the world with 74 rigs around the globe. (DealBook)

The price represents a 21 percent premium to Pride’s Feb. 4 closing price. The purchase would be the largest for Ensco, and is the second-largest acquisition of a U.S. oil services company in the last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Banco Santander (NYSE:SAN), the Spanish lender, said it was offering 16.6 billion zloty ($5.8 billion) for Bank Zachodni WBK (BZW) of Poland, until now controlled by Allied Irish Banks. (DealBook)

French buyout firm PAI Partners is selling a clutch of companies, preparing the ground for a new fund and drawing a line under the management upheaval that nearly marked its demise. German clutch maker FTE Automotive, Engineering firm Spie, and Italian clothing chain Gruppo Coin (GCN) could be likely disposals. (Reuters)

Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A), the conglomerate run by Warren E. Buffett, has agreed to take over the remaining shares of the Wesco Financial Corporation (NYSEMKT:WSC), one of its largest subsidiaries, for $547.6 million in stock and cash. (DealBook)

Goldman Sachs Group’s private equity arm GS Capital Partners, is near a deal to buy the largest U.S. franchisee of Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar restaurants. (Reuters)

British aerospace parts supplier Umeco Plc (UMC) said it could sell its supply chain unit Pattonair, a major part of its business. The Mail reported that Pattonair had been put up for sale for more than 200 million pounds ($322.2 million) and that Umeco were in talks with Lloyds Banking Group’s (NYSE:LYG) private equity arm, Lloyds Development Capital. (Reuters)

Mobile social network MocoSpace may be interested in buying News Corp’s (NASDAQ:NWS) MySpace. (PaidContent.Org)

Australian ASX-listed Westgold Resources (WGR) has made a play for fellow-listed Aragon Resources (AAG), which valued the company at around A$75-million. (Mining Weekly)