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Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Top Deutsche Bank dealmaker predicts another "leg to this upcycle"

I was expecting dealmaking the UK to roar back into life after Summer. But it's unusually quiet in the UK M&A market at the moment, with only just a couple of mid-market deals knocking around, such as Greene King's £700m bid for Spirit.

Henrik Aslaken, though, is still reasonably bullish about dealmaking. The head of M&A at Deutsche Bank just told the Financial Times: "we haven't seen the hubris in the boardroom yet, with no outsized megadeal being announced. So it feels like there is another leg to this upcycle."

This may turn out to be true but Andrew Hill, over at Financial Times, has just written an amusing piece on the topic. If your interested in M&A, its definitely worthwhile a read:

http://blogs.ft.com/businessblog/2014/10/bankers-boasts-hubris-and-megadeals/

Monday, 29 September 2014

Microchip Technology appoints...nobody, apparently

I have spent the last few weeks trying to find out which investment bank has been advising Microchip  Technology on its approach for CSR, the London-listed chipmaker. So far, I haven't turned up with anything.

Anyway, it turns out there might be a good reason why I haven't managed to find out (apart from being a rubbish journalist). According to some sources following this situation, Microchip hasn't been using a financial adviser since the negotiations began.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Supermarket sweep

Mike Ashley's multi-million pound punt on Tesco has certainly caused a stir in the London market this morning.

Ashley is a born trader and maverick entrepreneur and I would certainly be wary of betting against him. However, let's not forget that some of the sharpest "professional" investors in global stock markets have already this year taken substantial positions in listed British supermarkets and, so far, it does not appear (I say "appear" as these positions may have been hedged) to have been a good trade.

German humour

Alistair Osborne's business comment column in The Times today is well worth read. Osborne is an acerbic writer and professional wind up merchant who I used to work with at The Daily Telegraph. His comment on Rocket Internet's IPO is particularly amusing. Here is a link to it:

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/columnists/alistairosborne/article4217149.ece

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Pub gossip - part 4

It's a bit late in the day but just a quick note to congratulate Bryce Elder, the stock market reporter over at the Financial Times, on yesterday's scoop about Greene King's £700m takeover approach for rival Spirit. Here is a link to Bryce's piece: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/cb3478c6-4338-11e4-be3f-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3EAr0HkhD

Dom Walsh over at The Times also did an excellent follow piece with a comprehensive list of counter bidders for Spirit, including Stonegate and Marston's. However, from what I am hearing I'm not sure Marston's is in the financial position to launch a bid for Spirit.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Hikma Pharmaceuticals eyes $1 billion purchase of CorePharma

I realise most of the dealmaking community is currently focused on the risk that some large pharmaceutical deals may collapse. But I have stumbled across a potential pharmaceutical deal that is unlikely to be affected by the US government's attempt to clamp down on corporate "tax inversions".

I have been told by reliable sources that FTSE 250-listed Hikma Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures branded and non-branded generic pharmaceutical products, has been looking at buying US-based CorePharma for up to $1 billion.

Monday, 22 September 2014

It's not just Parky...

Gary Parkinson has written another cracking 'Trade Secrets' column in The Times this morning and here is a link to it: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/columnists/tradesecrets/article4213584.ece

But this week Gary isn't the only reporter over at The Times to have delivered a beautifully crafted piece of prose. Dominic Walsh has written an excellent profile on Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, the heiress of the Dutch brewing giant.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Performing - part 2

It looks like that rather large block trade in Perform shares from earlier in the week was nothing more than an institutional seller exiting to a bunch of risk arbitrageurs (hedge funds that bet on takeover bids).

In case you forgot, here is a link to the piece I did earlier in the week:

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Whimper...or not

Well, it looks like my foray into reporting on US cloud computing deals has ended with a bit of whimper.

Rackspace said yesterday that it decided against pursing a sale of the business after receiving several approaches - I am presuming at least one those approaches came from CenturyLink and possibly even Hewlett-Packard.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Performing

A rather large line of Perform stock - over 40 million shares - changed hands in almost one go at the close of the London market this evening. Investec is thought to have done a lot of the business (lucky them).

I'm not quite sure what the implications are of this share sale but it certainly sounds like something is cooking. For readers that don't recall, sports media company Perform has received a 260p a share/£700 million takeover approach from its largest shareholder, the US/Ukranian billionaire tycoon Len Blavatnik.

Monday, 15 September 2014

CenturyLink said to have lined up financing for Rackspace; Hewlett-Packard also rumoured to be interested

Here's an interesting snippet about a fairly chunky US technology deal. I hear from excellent sources  CenturyLink, a landline phone service provider, has tapped up some US banks for a $6 billion financing package so that it can purchase cloud-computing services company Rackspace Hosting.

Rackspace specialises in providing cloud-computing services and, according to Bloomberg, hired Morgan Stanley to carry out a strategic review of the business earlier this year after Google and Amazon cut prices on competing products. Here are links to the original Bloomberg story and a follow up piece:

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Sunday review

Most of today's Sunday newspaper business sections are focused on financial implications and risks of Scotland breaking away from the Union.

But tucked away on page 2 of The Sunday Times is a story from John Collingridge on Porterbrook, the train leasing company that has been put up for sale by a consortium of investors led by Deutsche Bank.

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Financial Times and J Sainsbury

Bryce Elder, the stock market reporter over at the Financial Times, has this morning touched upon quite an interesting theory whistling around the London market.

Towards the end of Bryce's market report, the genial scotsman talks about how "activist funds are rumoured to be taking an interest in the supermarket after the stock's 31pc slump since mid-December".

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The auction of the auctioneer

It's a bit quiet in the world of public company M&A in the London market so I thought I would write a quick post on the auctioneer Bonhams following my piece in the Mail on Sunday last month.

For readers unfamiliar with the situation, the owners of Bonhams have reportedly hired bankers from Greenhill to carry out a strategic review (i.e. sale) of the 200-year old auctioneer.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Severn Trent bidders come together again...

But don't get too excited - it's not with a view to buying Severn Trent for £5 billion. Well, not at the moment, at least.

My sources tell me Canada's Borealis has been working with Wren House Infrastructure Management - a specialist infrastructure investment group set up by the Kuwait Investment Authority last year - to join a consortium bidding for train leasing company Porterbrook.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Back on Tip TV talking about CSR and consolidation in the pharmaceutical sector

The lads over at Tip TV invited me back on today to congratulate me on some of my InterMune stories.

In case you are interested, here is a link to today's clip: http://www.tiptv.co.uk/archives/mergers-acquisitions-with-ben-harrington-05-09-2014/

Thursday, 4 September 2014

CSR appoints new adviser following Microchip approach

Here's an interesting snippet on the CSR takeover situation. I understand CSR has brought on board Goldman Sachs as a financial adviser alongside bankers from JP Morgan Cazenove.

For readers that don't recall, CSR admitted last week that it had received a takeover approach from Microchip Technology but had rejected the US company's offer because the offer was too low. Here is a link to CSR's announcement: http://www.investegate.co.uk/csr-plc--csr-/rns/csr-confirms-approach-from-microchip-technology/201408280947112254Q/

One last moment of smugness for Dixons Carhpone

Apologies for the blatant self promotion and backslapping but I thought I would take this moment to point out that index compiler FTSE yesterday confirmed that Dixons Carphone will be promoted to the FTSE 100 index as part of the next quarterly reshuffle.

Readers might recall that I broke the story back in February on little old Betaville about Carphone Warehouse being in merger talks with Dixons Retail with a view to creating a FTSE 100 retail giant worth over £3.5 billion. The tale was probably one of my best scoops since I started in financial journalism almost a decade ago.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Livening up

If you are based in the UK and into deals, there are couple of interesting jackanories floating around the inter web this afternoon.

First off, the venerable Wall Street Journal is reporting that Anglo American is open to offers. Here is a link to the Journal's piece: http://online.wsj.com/articles/anglo-american-ceo-says-open-to-takeover-offers-1409664798

3 normally makes a journalist "trend" but in this case...part 2

Andrew Clark's comment piece in The Times on Blavatnik's attempt to buy Perform for £700m is probably the most incisive piece of comment I have read on this peculiar takeover deal.

If your following the situation, Andrew's piece is worth a read. Here is a link to Andrew's article: