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Monday, 22 December 2014

It's cheeky bid time

The boys over at FT Alphaville might have knocked off until the New Year but don't worry little old Betaville will keep on going until 2015.

First, let's address this rather cheeky bid from for Afren from Seplat, which I have to admit I had never heard of until this morning.

Afren said today that after seeing its share price rise significantly on Friday, it had received:

"a highly preliminary approach from SEPLAT Petroleum Development Company plc ("Seplat") regarding a possible combination with Afren." 

Here is the link the RNS statement:

http://www.investegate.co.uk/afren-plc--afr-/rns/stmnt-re-share-price-movement/201412220905094283A/

However, a quick glance at the market capitalisations of both companies would lead you to assume that Nigerian oil explorer Seplat is being rather opportunistic given Afren's recent "management issues". Afren's current market capitalisation is £550m while Seplat is worth about £670m.

Anyway, I understand this is not the only M&A deal Afren has been presented with, so I would expect to see more interesting developments over the next few weeks with regards to this situation.

And this end-of-year deal flurry raises some interesting questions about the prospects for mergers & acquisitions next year in the UK. Indeed, in the last seven days there have been three significant public market deals in Britain - Afren, Catlin and British Airway's bid for Aer Lingus.

All of these approaches have an air of cheekiness about them but some market commentators are starting to speculate they could herald the beginning of something big for 2015: a genuine M&A boom.

Well, Bloomberg at least has "gone early" by publishing today its top M&A deal predictions for 2015. Here is a link to Bloomie's prediction list: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-22/real-m-a-s-2015-guide-for-deal-watchers-pfizer-to-megabrew.html   

Do, though, keep an eye on Betaville towards the end of the year as I am hoping to compile my very own deal prediction tips list...

Friday, 19 December 2014

A Quindell snippet

I hear Quindell's board met this afternoon to discuss some of the findings of PricewaterouseCoopers's "independent review" into the beleaguered company's claims processing business.

For readers that don't recall, click on the link to this Financial Times story about the PwC review: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/61ad7a76-7eaf-11e4-a828-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3Ltzlu99D

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Another FT deal scoop

The Financial Times is really on fire at the moment. Following yesterday's scoop about a takeover bid for Lloyd's of London insurer Catlin the venerable newspaper this afternoon broke the story about the owner of British Airways considering a 1.1 billion Euro offer for Aer Lingus. Here is a link to that piece:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/c6fa70fe-86c1-11e4-8a51-00144feabdc0,Authorised=false.html?_i_location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ft.com%2Fcms%2Fs%2F0%2Fc6fa70fe-86c1-11e4-8a51-00144feabdc0.html%3Fsiteedition%3Duk&siteedition=uk&_i_referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ft.com%2Fhome%2Fuk#axzz3Ltzlu99D

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Time for a pay rise, Ed?

Hat tip to Bryce Elder, the stock market reporter over at the Financial Times.

Bryce led on rumours about a bid for Catlin in his market report today and - surprise, surprise - the Lloyd's of London insurer later confirmed it had received a £2.6 billion approach from US-listed XL Group. Here is a link to a confirmation of Bryce's top tale: http://www.investegate.co.uk/Index.aspx?searchtype=2&words=Catlin

Hellman & Friedman said to eye sale or float of Hostel World

I see from today's newspaper coverage there were a whole bunch of suitors for Lastminute.com, the online travel agent that was the icon of the dot com boom and bust in the late 90s/early noughties.

According to the Financial Times, Priceline, Expedia, Orbitz, Ctrip, eDreams and Oakley Capital were all keen on Lastminute.com. Here is a link to the FT piece:

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Game, set and match for Repsol?

Wow - Talisman Energy has leapt over 45pc in early trade after agreeing to a knockout $8.3 billion offer from Spain's Repsol.

The Spaniards must have been anxious to secure a deal with Talisman as they are paying $8 a share, which is considered by some market participants to be a much higher-than-expected offer price.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Parky link

Gary Parkinson, the stock market reporter over at The Times, is back on top form with a brilliant and amusing column on bonuses.

Here is a link to Parky's piece:

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/columnists/tradesecrets/article4297079.ece

Sunday, 14 December 2014

A sort of Sunday review

There has been lots of coverage in the last few days about Repsol's renewed interest in buying the ailing Canadian oil company Talisman Energy for up to $8 billion. Here is a link to a Financial Times piece: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6c74867e-8202-11e4-a9bb-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3Ltzlu99D

If readers are casting about for other potential buyers of Talisman, I will remind you I wrote this piece for The Sunday Times back in October:

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/business/article1469913.ece

Friday, 12 December 2014

Back on Tip TV talking about Severn Trent, Pharma deals and...Quindell

The festive season is already starting to take its toll on me but I dragged myself into Tip TV this morning. Here is a link to today's clip: http://www.tiptv.co.uk/archives/mergers-acquisitions/

UPDATE: Apologies. I think I said in today's Tip TV clip that I wrote about Severn Trent for dealReporter in February 2014 but it was actually published in late January.  

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Former Tesco executive leaves Sun European - where to next?

Much of today's coverage in the British newspaper business sections is focused on Tesco's terrible problems so I thought would post a piece linked to the retailer even if that connection is pretty tenuous.

I hear from good sources Tim Mason, the former head of Tesco's Fresh & Easy division in the US, has effectively left private equity firm Sun European Partners, which specialises in buying struggling retailers.

Monday, 8 December 2014

The Rio line up

Here is an interesting snippet on the Rio Tinto/Glencore situation.

I hear from top sources that Rio Tinto has retained Simon Robey's M&A advisory boutique Robey Warshaw alongside its corporate brokers and other financial advisers to work on "strategic" matters. Undoubtedly, Robey Warshaw will be providing the Rio board with advice on how to defend themselves from Glasenberg and Glencore, which earlier this year made a multi-billion dollar takeover approach for its rival.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Weekend review on Shire, Merck, Cubist, Crystal Amber and J Sainsbury

Hat tip to David Gelles of The New York Times for landing the scoop about US drugs giant Merck talking to Cubist Pharmaceuticals about a takeover deal of more than $7 billion.

Here is a link to David's piece: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/12/05/merck-in-talks-to-acquire-drug-maker-cubist-for-more-than-7-billion/?_r=0

Thursday, 4 December 2014

A revealing question: is Permira also punting on Bwin?

Apologies for a headline that posits a question. The problem is Betaville's best sources are certain Permira is the private equity firm that is taking a look at Bwin.party Digital Entertainment. However, people familiar with the private equity firm have tried to pour cold water on the tale, denying the buy-out shop has any interest in the online gaming company. Talk about awkward.

A quick recap for readers unfamiliar with this particular situation: Bwin confirmed last month it is in talks with various unnamed parties about a potential deal and Deutsche Bank is managing the strategic review.

Vodafone, Vodafone - part 2

There appear to be some pretty divergent views within the financial media about what mega deal Vodafone is planning to do next.

Last Friday Bloomberg reported that Vodafone was looking at a $130 billion merger with Jon Malone's Liberty Global: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-28/vodafone-said-to-eye-takeover-of-malone-s-liberty-global.html

This morning, Christopher Williams of The Daily Telegraph seems to be reporting the exact opposite: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/telecoms/11270650/Vodafone-chief-denies-bid-for-Virgin-Media-owner-Liberty-Global.html

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Chinese said to be circling Premier League - again - Part 3

I see Dalian Wanda, the multi-billion dollar Chinese conglomerate, is still getting a lot of attention in the British newspaper business pages - this time for getting into pig farming and pork production. Here is a link to a Financial Times piece on the topic: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a3571d66-7a26-11e4-8958-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3KpuRbCmr

It won't be long before Wang Jianlin - the billionaire who controls Dalian Wanda - adds a European football club, possibly one from the Premier League, to Dalian Wanda's eclectic portfolio of businesses.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Chinese said to be circling Premier League - again - part 2

I see most of today's broadsheet newspaper business sections have given Dalian Wanda's interest in buying a stake in Lions Gate Entertainment Corp, the US studio behind "The Hunger Games", a lot of space and attention.

The other asset Dalian, led by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, is interested in buying is a European football club, possibly one in the British Premier League. Here is a link my previous article on the topic: http://betaville123.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/chinese-said-to-be-circling-premier.html

Monday, 1 December 2014

Playtech/Sagi said to be punting on Bwin

Here is an interesting snippet on a live M&A situation.

I hear from excellent sources that Playtech, the gaming software development company, and its largest shareholder, the Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi, are taking a good hard look at Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, the online betting group.

Two Betaville scoops confirmed on one Winter's morning

Here is something to cheer you up on a cold, grey Monday morning - a couple of my Betaville """"""exclusive""""" jackanories have just been confirmed.  

Kier Group said in a statement this morning via the UK regulatory news service that:

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Banks edge closer to £400 million Mouchel sale; Kier in the running

It sounds like the Mouchel sale I was talking about on Tip TV yesterday morning is getting closer to completion.

Some of my best sources got in touch after yesterday's session on Tip TV. They believe Mouchel and its advisers at NM Rothschild are now in very serious/advanced discussions about a deal with at least one buyer, and I think the purchaser could very well be Kier Group.