Thursday, January 11, 2007

Corus Entertainment sees no 'imminent' M&A activity, CEO says

Corus Entertainment, the listed Canadian radio and television broadcasting firm, anticipates no M&A deals in the foreseeable future, noted the National Post.
John Cassaday, the chief executive of the company, was cited in the 11 January report as saying that he does not anticipate "imminent" M&A-related "activity" in 2007. He acknowledged in the report, which concentrated in the company's Q1 results, that Corus was interested in buying listed Canadian media firm Alliance Atlantis Communications' broadcast assets. However, CanWest Global Communications, a listed Canadian rival, and Goldman Sachs yesterday announced a USD 1.960bn deal to buy Alliance Atlantis.

CanWest Global Communications and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners acquire Alliance Atlantis Communications for USD 1.96bn

anWest Global Communications and GS Capital Partners, a private equity affiliate of Goldman Sachs, said a new acquisition company will acquire Alliance Atlantis Communications. The new acquisition company will acquire all of its outstanding class A voting and class B non-voting shares at a purchase price of CAD 53.00 per share in cash for an aggregate price of CAD 2.3bn 9USD 1.96bn).
"Today's transaction is consistent with CanWest's strategy to enhance its existing television business and expand its presence in the fast growing specialty television sector," said Leonard Asper, President and CEO of CanWest. "The combined expertise of CanWest and Alliance Atlantis will enable us to produce even better Canadian content, promote it more effectively, and provide greater access to more viewers across more platforms. We are thrilled to be working with Goldman Sachs to effect this strategic transaction."
The acquisition of Alliance Atlantis is to be carried out by way of a statutory Plan of Arrangement. The newly formed acquisition company is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of CanWest. The Arrangement requires a vote by Alliance Atlantis' Class A voting and Class B non-voting shareholders at a meeting of shareholders, which is currently expected to be held in the spring of 2007. Shareholders representing approximately 80% of the Class A voting shares, have agreed to vote their shares of Alliance Atlantis in favour of the shareholders' resolution approving the Arrangement.
The Arrangement is also subject to court approval as well as certain other customary conditions, including the receipt of regulatory approvals. Pending approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ("CRTC") for the change of ownership and transfer of control of the specialty television channels, the securities of the relevant regulated entities will be deposited with a trustee pursuant to a voting trust agreement approved by the CRTC.
A special committee of the board of Directors of Alliance Atlantis, comprised of Robert Steacy (Chair), Barry Reiter and Anthony Griffiths (the "Special Committee"), has reviewed the plan of arrangement in consultation with its legal and financial advisors. The special committee unanimously recommends the plan of arrangement to the company's board of directors, and the board of directors unanimously recommends (with one director recusing himself due to conflict) that shareholders vote in favour of the Arrangement. RBC Capital Markets has provided an opinion to the board indicating that, as of the date of such opinion, the consideration under the plan of arrangement is fair from a financial point of view to the shareholders.
A CanWest-controlled company will be the controlling shareholder of Alliance Atlantis following the closing of the transaction (expected to occur by summer 2007). It is intended that a reorganization of Alliance Atlantis will take place to separate the businesses of the Company as follows: upon receipt of CRTC approval, Alliance Atlantis' specialty television business and CanWest's Canadian television business will be managed on an integrated basis by CanWest and ultimately combined; it is intended that Alliance Atlantis' Motion Picture Distribution business will be controlled by a Canadian partner of GS Capital Partners; and it is intended that GS Capital Partners will own 100% of Alliance Atlantis' financial interest in the highly successful CSI franchise.
As part of this new relationship with Goldman Sachs, CBS will assume international distribution of CSI, CSI: Miami and CSI: NY.
The formal combination of the broadcast businesses will occur sometime in 2011. The equity of each of CanWest and GS Capital Partners in the combined entity will be determined by the EBITDA of the combined operation at that time. There are a variety of customary liquidity mechanisms that will be available to the parties following the combination.
CanWest was advised by Genuity Capital Markets and GS Capital Partners was advised by Goldman, Sachs & Co. Alliance Atlantis was advised by RBC Capital Markets.

eBay acquires online tickets marketplace StubHub

eBay announced on 10 January 2007 it has agreed to acquire privately held StubHub, a leading online marketplace for the resale of event tickets.
The acquisition will enable eBay to expand its presence and offering in the online tickets segment, while allowing StubHub to continue to scale its business with the e-commerce expertise and resources of eBay.
eBay has agreed to purchase StubHub for an estimated aggregate value of approximately USD 310m, which will include the company's net cash as of the closing. The final amount will be determined at closing payable in cash.
StubHub is the fan's ticket marketplace, enabling customers to buy and sell tickets at fair market value to a vast selection of sporting, concert, theater and other live entertainment events, even those that are "sold out".

Sirius Satellite and XM Satellite Radio merger would face big regulatory issues - report

Sirius Satellite Radio, the New York listed radio satellite company and its Washington DC competitor XM Satellite Radio, would face big regulatory issues if the merger takes place. The unsourced Wall Street Journal report, part of the paper's Breaking Views column, reported that while an analyst at Lehman Brothers said the two companies combined could save USD 1.3bn annually, the regulatory issues with a deal could make a merger hard to get done. According to the report, a way to get around some of the potential regulatory concerns over increased prices if the two combined is to either argue satellite radio is not a competitor to terrestrial radio and digital music or for the combined company to offer voluntary controls over price.

Sears sees speculation that it could be getting ready to make a large buy - report

Sears, the Illinois listed retailer, is seeing speculation that it could be getting ready to make a large buy, reported the Wall Street Journal. The report, part of a story looking at the company's fourth quarter financial results, said that Sears had a large cash balance at the end of the fourth quarter, which has prompted talks that it could make a large strategic buy in 2007. According to the unsourced report, Sears expects to end its fiscal year with USD 3.5bn in cash.

Wells Fargo open to possibility of more deals

Wells Fargo, a listed California bank, is open to the possibility of more deals, said Felix Fernandez, the northern California regional president for Wells Fargo's community banking division.
An American Banker report said that Fernandez declined to discuss whether Wells would seek more deals, but said the bank is open to being acquisitive. On 10 January, Wells Fargo said it would acquire California-based Placer Sierra Bancshares for USD 645m.

Bank of America does not 'need' big buy to prop up EPS in '07 - research report

Bank of America, the listed North Carolina bank, does not "need" to do a major deal to sustain earnings per share in 2007, Citigroup reports.
Citigroup made the remarks in a 5 January research report about multiple banks. The report was prepared by Keith Horowitz, Brian Mauney, and Stephen Kapsky, and discussed the outlook for multiple US banks in 2007.
In discussing Bank of America, the report said that the company has "significant fuel" to power growth via organic means. The report characterized "fears" that a "large international" buy could take place in the near future as "overblown." The report said that its analysis of Bank of America's business performance during 2006 versus its guidance showed the company performed at or above expectations.
The report said that, in general, Citigroup expects 2007 to show "below trend" growth, with growth at about 4% versus 14% during 2006.
However, Citigroup believes that in 2008, the company's earnings per share will reflect growth of 11%.
Bank of America had a market cap of USD 239.9bn in morning trading on 11 January.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Lukoil: ConocoPhillips increases stake to 20%

Lukoil, the listed Russian oil firm, has seen US-listed energy giant ConocoPhillips increase its stake in Lukoil to 20%, at the end of 2006. This was reported in Vedomosti, which referred to ConocoPhillips’ preliminary reports for Q4 2006.
A Rzeczpospolita report referred to Lukoil and wrote that ConocoPhillips increased stake from 18% to 20%, as it was anticipated in a strategic agreement between the parties. Vedomosti reported that in 2004, ConocoPhillips bought over 11% ordinary shares in Lukoil.
In 2005, Lukoil recorded sales of USD 55.7bn, according to company web site.

Gap not likely to garner more than USD 25 a share in sale - report

Gap, the California listed retailer that has hired Goldman Sachs for advising, is not likely to garner more than USD 25 a share in a sale, reported the Wall Street Journal. The report, citing option traders, reported option trading shows that most traders do not expect an offer to be higher than USD 25 a share.
Meanwhile a report in the paper's Breaking Views column, reported Gap may be ideal for a LBO given it has USD 2bn in cash and does not need more. According to the unsourced report, Gap could be valued at USD 17bn net of cash, in an LBO. The report speculated Gap could borrow USD 12bn with suitors having to come up with USD 5bn. The report was part of the paper's Options column.
Gap has a market capitalization of USD 16.4bn.

EnCana intends to buy Trident Resources - report

nCana, the listed Canadian energy giant, is reportedly interested in buying Trident Resources, the unlisted Canadian energy player, said the Globe and Mail.
The report cited an unidentified source in Calgary, Alberta as saying that EnCana has already inked a letter of intent to purchase the natural gas player. Moreover, another unidentified source, who said in the report that a deal could materialize within a "few days," added that EnCana could be willing to spend in excess of USD 1bn to buy Trident. Trident, which the report said has debt worth over USD 700m, has a gas-from-coal focus, an area of interest of EnCana. The deal, if it proceeds, would represent EnCana's biggest buy in close to 36 months.

Jean Coutu Group gears up for more Canadian acquisitions - report

Jean Coutu Group, a listed Canadian pharmacy chain, is gearing up for more acquisitions in Canada, according to a Globe and Mail report on 10 January.
Francois Coutu, who heads up Jean Coutu Group's Canadian business, was cited in the report as saying that the company is currently concentrating on closing a business transaction to sell to listed Pennsylvania-based Rite Aid its US drugstores. Once the deal is done, Jean Coutu Group will focus on growing its Canadian business via acquisitions, he explained. He added, however, that while the company will consider buying chains and independent outlets, it will not rush its growth strategy.
For the five weeks ended 30 December 2006, the company's Canadian franchise network's same store retail sales were up 8.4%, pharmacy same store sales gained 9.4% while front-end same store sales increased 7.4% year-over-year. The network showed a 9.1% increase in total retail sales compared with the same period last year. Retail sales for the period were CAD 290m (USD 246.2m).

CanWest confirms exclusive talks on possible purchase of Alliance Atlantis

In response to media speculation, CanWest Global Communications Corp. (CanWest) today confirmed that it has entered into exclusive discussions regarding the possible purchase of Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. (Alliance Atlantis).
CanWest in conjunction with private equity firm, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, has entered into discussions with Alliance Atlantis and its controlling shareholder Southhill Strategy, which is owned by Alliance Atlantis's executive chairman Michael MacMillan and Seaton McLean. There can be no assurance that these discussions will result in a definitive agreement.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

News Corp. could move to buy Dow Jones in 2007 - report

News Corp., the New York listed media company, could buy Dow Jones in 2007, reports the Los Angeles Times. The report, part of the paper’s annual predictions column, reported News Corp. could move to buy Dow Jones, also of New York, to boost its business news cable channel. The report predicts that if News Corp. does do that, some investors will express anger that it spent USD 5bn on an old media company when it could have acquired CNet for less. The predictions in the paper are based on interviews with analysts, investors and executives as well as the paper’s own guesswork, according to the La Times.

Yahoo could look for merger partner in 2007 - report

Yahoo, the California listed Internet company, could look for a merger partner in 2007, reported the Los Angeles Times. The report, part of the paper’s annual predictions column, reported that Yahoo could look for a merger partner in 2007, to help it compete better against Google.
According to the report, potential partners include Time Warner’s AOL, Microsoft’s MSN and eBay. The report noted Yahoo could also look for a merger with an older media company as well.
Yahoo has a market capitalization of USD 34.7bn. The predictions in the paper are based on interviews with analysts, investors and executives as well as the paper’s own guesswork, according to the LA Times.

Home Depot: PE group could be willing to table USD 100bn offer - report

Home Depot, the Georgia listed home improvement retail operator, could possibly be taken out for USD 100bn, suggested a report in the Globe and Mail.
According to an unsourced section of a 2 January report, American private equity concerns Texas Pacific Group and KKR could possibly be willing to table that amount for the American retailer that recently acquired a Chinese business.
The report, which focused on the potential for more private equity buyouts in 2007, noted that the idea of a private equity group willing to table USD 100bn for a target would have been deemed ridiculous by investors just a few years back.