Seeking Alpha
  • Today - Thursday, January 29, 2015

  • 11:03 AM
    • The powerful rally in the Swiss Franc has given more M&A firepower to multinationals based in the nation, notes Bloomberg.
    • The food industry could see one of the first deals if an emboldened Nestle (OTCPK:NSRGY) decides to make a run at General Mills (GIS -1.9%).
    • A combination of Nestle and General Mills has been floated around by analysts before due to the powerful synergies that could be struck between the food giants.
    | 1 Comment
  • 10:01 AM
    • The hire by Avon Products (AVP +2.7%) of James Scully as its new CFO has rekindled speculation of a P-E buyout.
    • Scully comes over from J. Crew which was brought private by TPG Partners and Leonard Green in 2010.
    • Barclays Capital: "We can’t help but wonder if this appointment has greater meaning?" (h/t Notable calls).
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  • 8:33 AM
    • Kate Spade (NYSE:KATE) strikes a deal with The Lane Crawford Joyce Group to help strengthen the presence of its brand in Greater China.
    • The company also acquired a 60% interest in KS China through its partnership with E-Land Fashion for a payment of $36M.
    • Through some efforts to consolidate operations in the region, the businesses in the China will be run under Kate Spade China with Walton Brown (The Lane Crawford Joyce Group property) holding an equal partnership interest.
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  • 7:55 AM
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  • 6:58 AM
    • Steve Madden announces it purchased the assets and IP of Blondo for an undisclosed amount.
    • Blondo is a fashion footwear brand with a focus on boots.
    • The transaction is expected to close in the back half of 2015 and add $0.01 to EPS for the full year.
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  • 2:23 AM
    • The London Stock Exchange Group (OTCPK:LDNXF) is looking to sell Russell Investments for $1.4B in mid-February, after buying Frank Russell from insurer Northwestern Mutual last year for $2.7B.
    • The exchange operator has tapped Barclays to sell the business, and has at least three interested buyers, including CIBC (NYSE:CM), Reuters reports.
    • LSE hopes to fetch around $1.4B for the unit.
    • Previously: Report: CIBC eyeing Russell's asset management business (Dec. 11 2014)
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  • 1:59 AM
    • The approval for an $8.2B Sysco (NYSE:SYY)-U.S. Foods deal is being delayed again after the FTC sent a subpoena to a third-party food distributor this week asking for more information.
    • "I think it’s shockingly unclear” at this point whether the FTC is preparing to clear the merger," a source told the NY Post.
    • Antitrust concerns are focused on whether the deal will drive up costs, as the two are the only ones with geographic reach to offer nationwide contracts for a wide variety of goods.
    • Previously: Sysco to divest assets to win merger approval (Nov. 21 2014)
    • Previously: FTC questions Sysco, US Foods merger (Sep. 23 2014)
    | 1 Comment
  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015

  • 12:38 PM
    • The European Commission clears Mylan's (MYL -0.1%) $5.3B acquisition of Abbott's (ABT +0.7%) non-U.S. Developed Markets Specialty and Branded Generics Business. The EC is concerned that the transaction would potentially reduce competition so its approval is contingent upon the divestment of some of Mylan's businesses in Germany, the U.K., France, Ireland and Italy.
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  • 11:35 AM
    • Canada's TELUS (NYSE:TU) has taken a 20% stake in Quebec-based IT/consultant firm Alithya.
    • The firms plan to offer joint solutions/services, and TELUS will send 94 employees to Alithya in the coming weeks to form a combined team of about 600 consultants.
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  • 10:27 AM
    • More Chinese investment in Hollywood as Hunan TV & Broadcast agrees with Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF) to invest a combined $1.5B into making and distributing films.
    • The deal covers the next three years and means that Hunan will set up a unit in the U.S., and Lions Gate will also help distribute Hunan's Chinese films in overseas markets.
    • China's Dalian Wanda -- already one of the biggest theater operators in the U.S. -- was reportedly in talks to buy a stake in Lions Gate.
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  • 9:44 AM
    • Shareholders with Reynolds American (RAI +1.5%) have approved an issuance of shares in connection with the company's acquisition of Lorillard (LO +0.8%).
    • The merger is still subject to regulatory approval.
    • The company expects a closing in the first half of 2015.
    • Reynolds American merger update (.pdf)
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  • 9:39 AM
    • Founded in 1988 and based in NYC, Ryan Labs Asset Management specializes in liability driven investing and total return fixed income strategies, and has about $5.1B in AUM. Sun Life's (NYSE:SLF) purchase of the company is expected to close this quarter.
    • Sun Life started its third-party business in Canada last year, and this purchase will extend its footprint in the U.S.
    • Source: Press Release
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  • 9:15 AM
    • Shares of Graphic Packaging Holding (NYSE:GPK) are on watch after Vertical Research Partners identifies the stock as a likely target of International Paper (NYSE:IP).
    • Analysts in the sector think the merger between Rock-Tenn and MeadWestvaco will push more paper producers into a consolidation mode.
    • GPK is already up 4.8% for the week.
    | 1 Comment
  • 8:08 AM
    • CommScope (NASDAQ:COMM) agrees to acquire TE Connectivity's (NYSE:TEL) telecom, enterprise and wireless businesses for $3B, in an attempt to diversify its operations and broaden its geographic reach.
    • COMM says it expects more than $150M in annual savings starting in the third year after the deal closes.
    • TEL says the sale will allow it to focus on connectivity and sensor markets, particularly harsh environment applications; the deal does not include TEL's subsea communications or data communications businesses.
    • TEL says it will use proceeds from the sale for stock buybacks, as well as acquisitions and other investments; its board authorizes a $3B expansion of its share buyback program.
    • Earlier: TE Connectivity beats by $0.08, misses on revenue
    • TEL +3.6%, COMM +2.1% premarket.
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  • 6:54 AM
    • It's BGC Partners' (NASDAQ:BGCP) serve and the company doesn't disappoint, responding to Michael Gooch's open letter to shareholders with one of its own.
    • "In a final desperate attempt to protect their conflicted and self-interested transaction, GFI (NYSE:GFIG) management is asking you to accept $5.85 per share in cash and stock, which is $0.25 less than BGC's $6.10 all-cash offer."
    • "Time is short," says BGC chief Howard Lutnick, urging GFI shareholders to vote against the merger with CME Group. The special meeting - originally set for yesterday - is due to take place on Friday.
    • Source: Press Release
    • Previously: Head of GFI Group writes open letter urging acceptance of CME bid (Jan. 27)
  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015

  • 4:14 PM
    • Along with its Q4 results, Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) announces its board has "authorized a plan for a tax-free spin-off of the company's remaining holdings in Alibaba Group (NYSE:BABA) into a newly formed independent registered investment company (SpinCo)."
    • Shares in the SpinCo will be "distributed pro rata to Yahoo shareholders, resulting in SpinCo becoming a separate publicly traded company." After the spinoff, Yahoo will own its core business and a 35.5% stake in Yahoo Japan. SpinCo will assume no debt in the deal, and Yahoo will retain its cash.
    • The spinoff is expected to be completed in Q4 2015, after a one-year lockup on Yahoo's Alibaba stake expires.
    • Yahoo's 384M-share (15%) Alibaba stake has a current market value of $39.5B. The company closed today with a total market cap of $46.7B.
    • Yahoo has jumped to $51.08 in AH trading. Alibaba is fractionally higher.
  • 1:59 PM
    • Informatica (INFA +2.6%) is working with i-bank Qatalyst Partners and "has been in contact with some potential bidders," the WSJ reports. Sources think the company could get interest from other software vendors or P-E firms, but caution there's no formal sale process underway and that talks are preliminary.
    • Shares are adding to the Monday gains they saw after Bloomberg reported activist Elliott Management had taken an ~8% stake (later confirmed), and was pushing for a sale. They're up 9% from Friday's close.
    | Comment!
  • 1:23 PM
    • Writing in his capacity as the controlling stockholder of Jersey Partners, a 36%+ owner of GFI Group (GFIG -2.6%), GFI Group founder and Executive Chairman Michael Gooch tells fellow owners they can opt for a "bird in the hand" - the CME/GFI offer - or hold out for "BGC in the bush."
    • Full letter is here
    • He notes the GFI management group will only be paid $4.44 for each of their shares sold through Jersey Partners (the CME/GFI offer is for $5.85 in stock and cash).
    • BGC Partners' (BGCP -0.7%) $6.10 per share cash offer "remains highly conditional," says Gooch, and - even if BGC reaches the 45% tender threshold - there's no guarantee GFI owners will get $6.10 for their shares.
  • 1:05 PM
    • Though Intel and several other PC-exposed names have been hammered by Microsoft's calendar Q4 Windows numbers, heavily-shorted AMD (AMD +4.6%) is adding to the Monday gains it saw on a rumor Chinese chipmaker BLX is looking to acquire the company.
    • Analyst reactions to the rumor have been mixed. Bernstein is skeptical CEO Lisa Su would agree to a sale so quickly after taking over, and notes Intel's x86 instruction set license to AMD doesn't transfer under a change of control. MKM notes the Chinese government has been looking to grow its chip IP, but isn't sure "AMD’s product capabilities are worthwhile at the moment."
    • Nomura observes AMD partnered with BLX back in 2003, and argues the company's IP and talent could appeal to a Chinese buyer. "We believe AMD's know-how in servers and GPU technology (for supercomputing and HPC) could be of great interest to China, which has been trying to develop these technologies internally for years."
    • Shares +11% over the last two days. Any attempted acquisition of AMD by a Chinese firm would likely be closely scrutinized by U.S. regulators.
  • 11:08 AM
    • At a special meeting held this morning, Orbital Sciences' (ORB -1.5%) stockholders voted to approve the proposed merger with the Aerospace and Defense Groups of Alliant Techsystems (ATK -1.2%).
    • As a result of the merger, shares of Orbital common stock are expected to be delisted after the close of trading on Feb. 9. Each Orbital share will be converted into 0.449 shares of common stock of ATK, with cash paid in lieu of fractional shares.
    • ATK will be renamed Orbital ATK and shares of the new entity will trade under the ticker symbol "OA" on the NYSE beginning Feb. 10.
    | 1 Comment
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