M&A Stock Action: News Corp, RBS Speculation, Gannett, Eastman Chemical

As January 2012 trading comes to a close, here is a review of the most recent week’s merger and acquisition activity and the big companies highlighted:

Monday

Apache (NYSE:APA) buys privately held oil and gas company Cordillera Energy Partners III. The cash-and-stock deal is valued at $2.85 billion, and Apache says the deal will more than double its acreage in the energy-rich Anadarko Basin.

News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS) may bid for Turkish media assets ATV and Sabah sources say. Calik Holdings owns ATV and Sabah and has extended the deadline for preliminary bids until next week. If deep-pocketed bidders like News Corp. are involved in the sale, the deal could bring in between $700 million and $1 billion.

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Royal Bank of Scotland (NYSE:RBS) is up on reports that Jefferies (NYSE:JEF) may make a bid for RBS’s cash equities unit. As part of a restructuring of its global banking and markets business, RBS is selling Hoare Govett and its wider cash equities.

Pan American Silver (NASDAQ:PAAS) confirms speculation it will buy Minefinders (AMEX:MFN). The Canadian precious metals miner will be purchased for about $1.5 billion Canadian ($1.48 billion) in cash and stock. A premium of 36% to Minefinders’ Friday close in Toronto is seen in the offer of $15.60 Canadian/share.

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QLogic (NASDAQ:QLGC) is selling its InfiniBand adapter card and switch business. Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) is purchasing it for $125 million in cash. InfiniBand chipmaker Mallanox (NASDAQ:MLNX) is selling of on this report of the latest in a series of moves made by Intel to bolster its networking offerings. QLogic will now focus more on its core Fibre Channel and FCoE storage networking businesses.

SuccessFactors (NASDAQ:SFSF) is off slightly. It is due to be acquired by SAP AG (NYSE:SAP) in an all-cash deal, however the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is investigating the acquisition.

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Tuesday

Watson Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:WPI) agrees to buy Ascent Pharmahealth for $375 million Australian ($396 million), and the deal will be immediately accretive to 2012 earnings. This will turn Watson into the fifth-largest generic pharmaceuticals firm in Australia and the largest in Singapore. It will also give the company footholds in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand.

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Gannett’s (NYSE:GCI) USA Today division has acquired Fantasy Sports Ventures. Fantasy Sports Ventures is the owner of sports site The Big Lead. Gannett has been looking to bolster its online presence to offset declining print subscription and advertising revenue, like many others in the business.

Collective Brands (NYSE:PSS) shares are down after more takeover talks develop. Bloomberg speculates the company “may extract the biggest takeover premium of any apparel retailer in the world.” PSS may attract interest from private equity firms and rivals such as Wolverine World Wide (NYSE:WWW) when bids are due next week, and could be worth up to $27/share based on the value of its separate businesses.

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Meredith (NYSE:MDP) is acquiring Allrecipes.com for $1.75 million. Meredith believes Allrecipes.com is the number one digital food site, and expects the acquisition to dilute the fiscal year 2012, which ends in June earnings per share by $0.10. However, it will be “modestly accretive” to fiscal year 2013 earnings per share. Meredith also reported second fiscal quarter revenue of $328.7 million, which was down 10% year-over-year, and earnings per share of $0.70. Both missed by $13.5 million and $0.03, respectively.

Transocean (NYSE:RIG) jumps higher on word Petrobras (NYSE:PBR) is acquiring a stake in the offshore drilling company. Transocean is holding its gain while Petrobas noses down from its session high.

Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO) is down as it announces it now has a majority stake in Ivanhoe Mines (NYSE:IVN). Enough shares were purchased that it brought its interest to 51%.

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Wednesday

Collective Brands (NYSE:PSS), the parent company for Payless, is reportedly about to cut a deal for the sale of the whole company. If a deal happens, it will likely be around $20/share. Sources are saying rival Wolverine Worldwide (NYSE:WWW) is the most well prepared to make a bid and would be interested in buying all of the company’s brands rather than picking and choosing.

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Indiana Community Bancorp (NASDAQ:INCB) shares skyrocket after agreeing to sell to Old National Bancorp (NYSE:ONB). A $79 million all-stock merger has been struck. Also INCB reported fourth quarter earnings this morning, which easily beat analysts’ expectations as net charge-offs and loan losses dropped.

Roche’s (RHHBY.PK) $5.7 billion hostile offer for Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN) is built on a loophole. In Illumina’s takeover, Roche will be able to vitiate ILMN’s provision for a staggered board by simply proposing to amend the by-laws at the next annual meeting to add another two Roche-sponsored directors. This is a scenario it completed successfully in its 2007 bid for Ventana.

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Friday

BNP Paribas (BNOBF.PK) has received interest from Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) and other U.S. banks, as it is reportedly trying to sell up to $11B of loans to oil and gas companies, the revenues from which it would use to bulk up its capital buffers. BNP has been getting offers with a discount of under 5%, and its loans have also attracted potential Canadian buyers.

Eastman Chemical Company’s (NYSE:EMN) strategy of expanding into emerging markets, especially Asia Pacific, has led, in part, to its merging with Soluitia (NYSE:SOA), with an offer of $27.65/share, which is a premium of 42% on Solutia’s close yesterday. Eastman also says that its Asian expansion
will “be immediately accretive to earnings.”, as the company now expects 2012 adjusted EPS of $5 and 2013 EPS of over $6.

Oshkosh (NYSE:OSK) says that an attempt by Carl Icahn to install an alternative slate of company directors has been defeated, with at least 12 of its 13 board nominees having been elected. Icahn wants to see the rival truck makers merge, as it holds ~10% stakes in Oshkosh and Navistar (NYSE:NAV).

Dawin Electronics, a privately held South Korean semiconductor company that designs and manufactures Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor, Fast Recovery Diode and MOSFET modules, is being acquired by a Korean subsidiary of MagnaChip (NYSE:MX), whose shares jumped after the announcement. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Tanya Harding at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com