Vodafone wants bigger bid
Six major Vodafone investors said US$100 billion was not enough for the British firm’s stake in its US joint venture with Verizon Communications, and urged the latter to come up with an offer of at least US$120 billion. Their comments followed a Reuters report on Wednesday last week that Verizon had hired advisers to prepare a possible US$100 billion bid to buy Vodafone’s 45 percent stake in their Verizon Wireless joint venture, likely to be structured as a roughly 50:50 cash and stock bid. Should the US$100 billion figure stand, the six shareholders, with about 1.3 billion of Vodafone’s shares between them, said they would prefer the British group to push for a full merger with Verizon instead.
Bayer to buy Conceptus
German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer yesterday said it had agreed to buy US women’s healthcare specialist Conceptus for US$1.1 billion. California-based Conceptus developed the Essure procedure, a non-surgical permanent birth control method. With this acquisition, Bayer will be able to offer a complete range of short-term, long-term and permanent contraceptive choices for women,” the firm said in a statement. Bayer said it would launch a public tender offer “within the next 10 business days to acquire all shares in Conceptus.” It said the transaction valued Conceptus at “approximately [US]$1.1 billion or 852 million euros, representing [US]$31.00 per share in cash.” The deal was subject to anti-trust approval in the US and was expected by the middle of this year, Bayer said.
Lloyds sells Spanish unit
Britain’s state-rescued Lloyds bank yesterday said it had sold its lossmaking Spanish retail banking activities to Spain’s Banco Sabadell in a deal worth up to 100 million euros (US$131 million). Lloyds said in a statement that it would receive a 1.8 percent stake in Sabadell worth about 84 million euros, plus an additional sum of up to 20 million euros over the next five years. Lloyds added that the sale of the business was expected to lead to a loss of approximately ￡250 million (US$387 million). The business consists mostly of retail mortgages and deposits, with a large portion of non-resident clients.
BHP sells Pinto Valley mine
Global mining titan BHP Billiton yesterday announced the sale of its Pinto Valley mining operation and rail assets in the US to Capstone Mining Corp for US$650 million. In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange, BHP said it had signed a definitive cash agreement with Canadian base metal miner Capstone. The deal for the open-pit copper mining operation east of Phoenix in the Globe-Miami district of Arizona is subject to regulatory approval and expected to be completed in the second half of this year. Under the sale, Capstone will assume environmental liabilities at the mine.
Inflation slows in Spain
Spain yesterday reported a fall in annual inflation this month, as energy costs tumbled in the recession-hit economy. Consumer prices last month climbed just 1.5 percent, after a 2.6 percent advance in February, according to preliminary data from the National Statistics Institute. When compared with last month, prices were up just 0.1 percent. Falling fuel and electricity prices dragged down annual inflation, which was adjusted to smooth out the impact of seasonal blips, the institute said.