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Friday, 21 November 2014

Chinese merchant bank zooms into Formula One

This is rather intriguing. Click on the link below and you will see that Caterham, the Formula One team that recently found itself in financial difficulty, has found a new sponsor in North Square Blue Oak and is set to race in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend.

https://files.nsbo.com/public.php?service=files&t=9c01a967492e855a1abf12edece3126e

For readers unfamiliar with the travails of Caterham, it went into administration last month and missed a race weekend for the first time in its race history. Here is a link to a Financial Times piece on the topic: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/72c0cf12-587a-11e4-942f-00144feab7de.html#axzz3JhN6Jo48

But now the Caterham F1 team is back and North Square Blue Oak - a City-based merchant bank and stockbroker with strong ties to China - appears to have played a part in the company's revival. The Caterham team used to be sponsored by US industrial giant GE.

Will Stevens, a 23-year old driver from England, will make his debut in Formula One at the season-ending Abu Dhabi race by driving a Caterham car. Here is a link to a BBC piece on Will Stevens's forthcoming debut and Caterham's uncertain future:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/30131456

What I am wondering is does this imply the Chinese are taking a strong interest in buying the Caterham team or possibly, even, Formula One itself?

As we all know, the owners of the sport - which include CVC Capital Partners - have been weighing a sale or flotation of Formula One for last couple of years.  

Watch this space...

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Back on Tip TV talking about Kier Group, big US deals and BP

Nick Batsford - aka Moose - very kindly asked me back onto Tip TV to talk about M&A. As usual, it was great fun and also a great honour - I preceded veteran City commentators such as Panmure Gordon's David Buik.  

Here is a link to today's clip: http://www.tiptv.co.uk/archives/ma-ben-harrington-betaville-blogspot/ 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Another US 'vulture' fund circles Stemcor

Here is an interesting snippet I picked up the Stemcor restructuring situation I wrote about in The Sunday Times last weekend.

I hear from good sources that Monarch Alternative Capital, a US fund that specialises in buying distressed loans (also dubbed by some news outlets as a 'vulture' fund), has built up a sizeable position in Stemcor's debt.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Microchip finally rules itself out for CSR...

It's game over for investors that were betting on a potential counter bid from US group Microchip Technology for London-listed CSR.

This morning the US company said it will not proceed with making an offer for CSR after having approached the FTSE 250 company back in August. Here is a link to Microchip's statement: http://www.investegate.co.uk/microchip-technology/rns/statement-re-rule-2-8-no-intention-to-bid-csr-plc/201411170700041419X/

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Never say its quiet...

Typical. I mentioned it was unusually quiet in the UK corporate dealmaking scene in a post this morning and a couple of hours later my rivals unearth a cracking scoop.

Anyway, Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment confirmed at lunchtime that it has entered into talks with companies interested in buying, or merging with, the online gaining group.

Chinese said to be circling Premier League - again..

It's unusually quiet in the UK corporate dealmaking scene so I thought I would take a look at a story in another sector I have a profound interest in: Premier League football.

I picked up a snippet doing the rounds last week that Dalian Wanda, the Chinese real estate company controlled by billionaire Wang Jianlin, may have rekindled its interest in buying a Premier League football club.

Monday, 10 November 2014

A Sunday review on a Monday...

Tucked away in the middle of Oliver Shah's story on J Sainsbury in The Sunday Times this weekend was quite an interesting nugget of information that appears to have been overlooked by the market.

Yesterday, Oliver revealed within the body of his news article on J Sainsbury that Crystal Amber, the activist investor run by Richard Bernstein, has been looking at the supermarket group with a view to advising a large US fund on carrying out an activist campaign involving the company.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

A man called Klein

I have been ruminating on last week's piece in the Companies section of the Financial Times on the uber rainmaker Michael Klein. In case you missed it, here is a link to the piece by the excellent Daniel Schafer: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/67a9233e-5dc2-11e4-897f-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3HeCYpzDL

Schafer unearthed some extremely interesting history and quotes about Klein, who hit the headlines for supposedly advising on the $41 billion merger of Glencore and Xstrata as a one man band. Nice work if you get it.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Blue is the colour for a red rainmaker

Looking over last week's coverage of Christian Purslow's appointment as the new commercial boss of Chelsea FC it struck me that little has been made of the former City dealmaker's past career in the Square Mile and what that might mean for the Premier League club.

I remember Purslow from when he was at private equity firm Mid Ocean Partners, doing deals such as the £150m leveraged buy-out of LA Fitness. Prior to Mid Ocean, Purslow worked as a high-flying investment banker at Schroders and Credit Suisse.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Another cracker from Parky

I know I give Parky's trade secrets column in The Times a lot of airtime on Betaville but I just can't help doing it again this morning as his latest missive is absolutely hilarious, spot on and incredibly well written.

In case you haven't had a chance to look at Gary Parkinson's column, here is a link to it: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/columnists/tradesecrets/article4255469.ece

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Fancy that - ENRC wins latest tussle with Sir Paul Judge - part 2

My court mole has been back in touch after having a bit of time to look over Mrs Justice Swift's judgement on whether the row between Sir Paul Judge and Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation should proceed to trial.

For readers that don't recall, Sir Paul was trying to get the courts to strike out some claims made against him for allegedly leaking board level information at ENRC, which was once listed on the FTSE 100 index. Here is a link to an Evening Standard piece on the topic:

Friday, 31 October 2014

Fancy that - ENRC wins latest tussle with Sir Paul Judge

Ping - an email arrives from my court mole with some fresh information on the ongoing row between Sir Paul Judge and Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation.

Sir Paul appears to have lost this latest skirmish after Mrs Justice Swift refused to strike out some claims made against him by ENRC, which used to be listed on the FTSE 100 index.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Hunting for Foxtons - part 2

Hat tip Harriet Dennys, the City diarist over at The Daily Telegraph, for tracking down Jon Hunt's spokesman and getting him/her to provide some sort of comment on the recent speculation the founder of Foxtons may be interested in buying the estate agency back of the public markets.

As Harriet points out today, a spokesman for the former Army officer refused to deny the takeover talk. Here is a link to Harriet's column:

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Fancy that - Top Right Group announces acquisition of Money 20/20

Good to see Top Right Group - the digital publishing and events company backed by Apax and the Guardian Media Group - announce the acquisition of conference organiser Money 20/20 this morning. Here is a link to the press release: http://www.topright-group.com/news/i2i-events-group-continues-its-international-expansion-acquisition-and-multi-year-long-term-par 

Loyal Betavillers will recall I published a piece - http://betaville123.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/top-right-group-said-to-be-close-to.html - last week hinting Top Right Group was close to a major acquisition.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Hunting for Foxtons

If you are interested in the fate of Foxtons, the London estate agent everybody loves to hate, then Martin Waller's commentary column in The Times today is definitely worth a read.

In today's business comment, the veteran writer notes speculation that Jon Hunt - the founder of the estate agency who sold the business at the top of the London property market in 2007 to private equity investor BC Partners - may be interested in buying the company back.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Rigby returns to the fray

Congratulations to Roger Bootle and Peter Rigby.

On Friday, Bootle, the top City economist, finally got round to completing a deal to sell a 35pc stake in the economics consultancy to Lloyds Development Capital. As part of that deal, Peter Rigby, the former chief executive of Informa, makes his return to business-to-business publishing industry by becoming a director of Capital Economics.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Fancy that - ENRC chalks up a win against lawyers in court

There is plenty of coverage this morning about the court case involving Dechert and Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, the mining company that used to be listed on the FTSE 100 index.

Here is a link to Financial Times piece on the topic: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a38a8140-5b6f-11e4-b68a-00144feab7de.html#axzz3GyEzZleG

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Top Right Group said to be close to multi-million pound exhibitions deal

Media types might interested to hear that Top Right Group, the company formerly known as Emap, is closing in on a decent-sized events and exhibition deal.

I understand Top Right - which is owned by private equity firm Apax and the Guardian Media Group - is about a month or so away from buying an exhibitions business that would take the group's i2i division into new sectors and new countries.

Monday, 20 October 2014

The missing skyscraper story rumbles on...

Ping - an email arrives from a new reader.

It contains a picture of chap called Mr Seamas Daly, an Irish businessman who founded a printing company called Photo Images Ltd. He is picketing outside a law firm based in Dublin, Ireland.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Ferrovial consortium said to be closing in on £1 billion airports deal - part 2

Regular readers shouldn't be surprised to learn that the owners of Heathrow have just sold Aberdeen, Southampton and Glasgow airports to a consortium comprising Spain's Ferrovial and Macquarie for £1 billion.

That's because little old Betaville reported on Tuesday the deal was likely to be formally announced by the end of this week.