Monday, March 10, 2014
- As European 4G investments ramp, "the window may be closing" on acquiring continental wireless assets, AT&T (T -0.4%) CEO Randall Stephenson stated last week at a Morgan Stanley conference (transcript). At the same time, he argued "there are still other opportunities" in Europe, such as those tied to the development of "global" SIM cards that can work with any type of device worldwide.
- Those remarks were highlighted by a weekend FT column declaring Stephenson had "poured more cold water." on hopes of an AT&T bid for Vodafone (VOD -4.2%). The AT&T chief has already been reported to have told investors further cable acquisitions by Vodafone would complicate a bid.
- Meanwhile, Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao states recently-acquired Kabel Deutschland will act as the "core" of a wireline business in Germany and possibly other countries. He adds Vodafone's wireline ops will expand to include security, Web hosting, and entertainment services (previous).
- Colao was cryptic when asked about Vodafone's reported efforts to acquire Spanish cable giant ONO. "We'll see what happens."
- Amcol International (ACO -2.1%) finally agrees to be acquired by Minerals Technologies (MTX +4.1%) for ~$1.7B after Imerys (IMYSF) failed to match MTX's sweetened bid of $45.75/share.
- MTX is the last man standing in the bidding warfor ACO, which lured six increased offers in just three weeks and has been the most active U.S. takeover target valued at $1B-plus so far this year.
- Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) has agreed to sell the global rights to its K-Y brand of intimate lubricants to Reckitt Benckiser (RBGLY).
- While the price of the deal wasn't provided, Reckitt did say that K-Y had 2013 sales of over $100M, the majority of which was generated in the U.S. Canada and Brazil.
- K-Y adds to Reckitt's Durex brand.
- The transaction doesn't include staff or fixed assets. (PR)
- Revolution Lighting Technologies (RVLT) has agreed to acquire Value Lighting and certain affiliates for $35.6M plus $3.5M in debt in a cash and stock deal. Revolution Lighting could make further payments of up to $10M in milestones.
- Revolution Lighting expects to receive at least $9M of working capital in the deal, which allows the company to enter the "fast growing multifamily residential housing sector."
- Value Lighting generated 2013 revenues of $43M and expects sales of $55M in 2014, with EBITDA in excess of 12% in both years.
- Revolution Lighting's shares surge 14.9%. (PR)
- Quest Diagnostics (DGX) finalizes its previously-announced acquisition of Solstas Lab Partners Group.
- On the basis of the purchase, the company ups its 2014 guidance to revenue growth of 2% - 4% versus the previous forecast of flat to down 2%.
- EPS forecast now $3.95 - $4.15 up from $3.90 - $4.10.
- Q1 EPS will be negatively impacted $0.10 due to harsh winter weather. Current consensus estimate is $0.93/share on revenues of $1.8B.
- GlaxoSmithKline (GSK +0.8% in London) increases its stake in Indian unit GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ltd to 75% from 50.7% for 64B rupees ($1.05B).
- The subsidiary's shares will continue to trade publicly.
- GSK offered to pay 3,100 rupees/share as part of an open offer to investors between February 18 and March 5. The company flagged its intention to raise its holding in the subsidiary in December.
- GSK said the transaction "further increases our exposure to a strategically important market." The unit provides respiratory, cardiovascular and cancer drugs, antibiotics, and vaccines.
- Just over a year ago, GSK paid $901M to raise its holdings in another Indian unit, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, to 72.5% from 43.2%. (PR)
- Schneider Electric (SBGSF) confirms it's in discussions with prospective suitors about selling them its sensors unit CST.
- Les Echos reports that Schneider is in talks with private-equity firm Carlyle (CG) and PAI Partners about a deal that could see the electrical-gear maker reap up to $900M and retain 30% of CST.
7:01 AM| Comment!
- Fruit distributor Chiquita Brands (CQB) has agreed to acquire Irish peer Fyffes (FYFFF) for $526M in an all-stock deal that will create the world's largest banana supplier.
- Chiquita shareholders will own 50.7% of the combined company, to be called ChiquitaFyffes, while Fyffes shareholders will receive the rest.
- The merged entity would have annual revenues of $4.6B.
- The transaction will help Chiquita lower its tax revenue, as the combined firm will be domiciled in Ireland.
- However, the deal could spark antitrust fears, as four multinationals - including Chiquita and Fyffes - control 80% of the world's banana market. (PR)
- French conglomerate Bouygues (BOUYY) has agreed to sell part of its network and wireless spectrum to smaller French competitor Iliad for up to €1.8B ($2.5B) if Bouygues succeeds in its efforts to merge its mobile phone unit with Vivendi (VIVHY, VIVEF) subsidiary SFR.
- The asset sale would be part of Bouygues' attempts to assuage antitrust concerns in France about the cellular deal.
- Bouygues faces competition for SFR from Amsterdam-listed Altice, which doesn't face the same antitrust hurdles as Bouygues.
- Newspaper consortium Classified Ventures, which includes Gannett (GCI), McClatchy (MNI) and Tribune (TRBAA), is looking to sell Cars.com for $3B, the WSJ reports.
- Gannett, whose holding in Classified is 27%, could be interested in increasing its stake in the auto-sales Web site.
- Any deal would come amid rising valuations for e-commerce sites and after Classified Ventures last week said it was selling apartments.com for $585M.
- The sale of Cars.com would effectively mark the end of the consortium, whose other owners are A.H. Belo (AHC) and Graham Holdings (GHC).
- Grupo Corporativo ONO's owners are moving forward with plans for an IPO, the WSJ reports, and are due to meet with analysts and candidates for independent directors today and tomorrow.
- The WSJ's article contrasts with a Reuters report on Friday which said that Vodafone (VOD) has agreed to a deal to acquire the Spanish cable operator.
- ONO's shareholders are due to hold an annual meeting on Thursday, when they could approve the IPO, which would effectively end any takeover talks.
- There's no word on the value of the IPO, although ONO's investors would reportedly want above €7B in any M&A.
- Liberty Global (LBTYA) has also been eying ONO.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
- A judge has ruled that a conflict of interests caused bankers at RBC Capital Markets to persuade Rural/Metro Corp. to accept a low offer of $438M from Warburg Pincus when the latter bought the national ambulance service in 2011.
- Judge Travis Laster found that the Royal Bank of Canada (RY) division misled Rural/Metro directors about the valuation of the company in order for the sale to be completed quickly. RBS also failed to disclose that it was looking to help Warburg finance the acquisition.
- Laster agreed with Rural/Metro's former investors that they should have received more money, although he has yet to decide how much RBC should pay in compensation. The ex-shareholders want $172M.
Friday, March 7, 2014
- ExOne (XONE +2.1%) has bought MWT, a German maker of industrial microwaves, and the assets of Machin-A-Mation, a Michigan-based machining shop. Between them, the acquisitions cost $9.8M.
- The 3D printer maker says MWT's microwaves will be used to strengthen its sand printing offerings, and that Machina-A-Mation, located near an ExOne production service center focused on aerospace/shipbuilding clients, will help it "address the finishing requirements for complex parts which are cast from [ExOne's] 3D printed sand molds."
- MWT's microwave ops will be folded into ExOne's Augsburg, Germany manufacturing ops.
- Sources tell Reuters (translation) Vodafone (VOD -2.8%) has raised its bid for Spanish cable giant ONO, and has reached a preliminary deal with ONO shareholders collectively possessing a controlling stake.
- No word on the specific offer price. Vodafone was previously reported to have made a rejected €7B ($9.6B) bid for ONO.
- One source states Vodafone plans to formally present its offer before ONO's board meets on March 13 to approve recently-announced plans to pursue an IPO.
- Vodafone is selling off on the report. A successful Vodafone bid for ONO, coming on the heels of its $14.2B Kabel Deutschland acquisition, could lower the odds AT&T (T +0.3%) will make an offer for the company once its 6-month waiting period ends. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has reportedly told investors further cable acquisitions by Vodafone would complicate a deal.
9:06 AM| Comment!
- Amcol International (ACO) has told Paris-based Imerys (IMYSF) that it has four working days to match Minerals Technologies' (MTX) increased rival offer of $1.48B, which Amcol's board has said is superior to that of Imerys.
- Minerals' proposal is worth $45.75 a share, 50 cents above Imerys' latest bid on Tuesday, although Amcol didn't change its recommendation in favor of a deal with the French company.
- One of the attractions of Amcol is that it has large reserves of bentonite, an important material for the construction and energy sectors. (PR)
Thursday, March 6, 2014
- Turquoise Hill Resources (TRQ) +4.1% AH on speculation from the Daily Mail that Rio Tinto (RIO) is preparing to bid ~$8/share for the outstanding 49.2% of the company it doesn't already own.
- Billionaire Robert Friedland holds 3% of TRQ is said to have been against selling out to RIO until recently.
- TRQ holds 66% of the massive Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine, but progress on the $6B second stage of the project has been held up by RIO’s inability to strike an agreement with the Mongolian government.
- As rumored, Supermarket chain owner Albertsons, controlled by an investor group led by P-E firm Cerberus, is acquiring Safeway (SWY). Investors are unhappy with the specific deal terms. (PR)
- Albertson's will pay $32.50/share in cash, distribute proceeds from the sale of Safeway's real estate subsidiary assets and Casa Ley stake (estimated value of $3.65/share), and distribute Safeway's 37.8M Blackhawk Network (HAWK) shares (current value of $3.95/share).
- The deal is expected to close in Q4, has a $400M termination fee, and comes with a 21-day go-shop period. Albertsons plans to fund the deal with the help of $7.6B in debt financing.