France’s Publicis increases presence in China with Longtuo buy

French advertising major Publicis Groupe SA (EPA:PUB) said on Monday it had taken over Chinese digital marketing firm Longtuo, with significant e-commerce expertise in creative, customer acquisition, marketing solutions and measurement tools, without revealing the price.

With this deal, Publicis is looking to capture more of the fast-growing e-commerce market in China, which according to technology market researcher Forrester will reach USD94.6bn (EUR74m) this year, the buyer said. eMarketer expects the Chinese sector market to grow at an annual pace of above 92% in the next three years and become the world’s largest e-commerce marketplace by 2015, Publicis said.

The French group will integrate Longtuo into its owned Razorfish network and rename it Razorfish Longtuo China. Longtuo’s CEO and founder SU Yi will be appointed managing director at Razorfish Longtuo China.

Beijing-based Longtuo was set up in 2000 and has now 200 employees working at offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The combination will more than double Razorfish’s size which now has a staff of 130 offering e-commerce services.

This takeover continues Publicis Groupe’s strategy to double its size in China between 2010 and 2013, as part of an overall plan to substantially boost revenues from emerging markets and the digital sector.

Publicis has bought four Chinese agencies in the past four months, it said.

PLUS stock exchange planning to close down as sales process falters

PLUS Markets Group plc (LSE:PMK), a British stock exchange for smaller firms, announced today that it is planning to close.

A formal sale process was launched by PLUS in February and the board of directors has considered various alternatives, such as potential offers for the company, offers of funding through a placing for shares in the company, the injection of capital into a subsidiary, the sale of certain assets and loan financing. Discussions were held with various interested parties, including major international stock exchanges and trading platforms, inter dealer brokers, technology providers, private equity and other wealth funds.

It was revealed in April that indicative proposals had been put forward by a number of parties, but PLUS announced today that an acceptable takeover offer has not been received to date and the company’s cash reserves have decreased.

The loss-making group has now informed the Financial Services Authority (FSA) that it intends to commence a process of “orderly closure”. In order to minimise market disruption, the plan is to wind down its regulated activities, including the operation of PLUS Stock Exchange plc (PLUS-SX), over a period of up to six months. This will be done in consultation with the FSA.

During the winding-down process PLUS has pledged to work to ensure that companies traded on the PLUS-quoted market are able to find suitable alternative arrangements for the trading of their shares.

For the time being the PLUS market will continue to operate as normal.

PLUS said that its board will continue to explore all possible options to preserve the remaining shareholder value, including any offers for the company’s remaining assets. The board will then consider what steps to take to either return any residual value to shareholders or to convert the company into an investing company under AIM Rules.

As well as PLUS Stock Exchange plc (PLUS-SX), PLUS operates PLUS Trading Solutions Limited (PLUS-TS) and PLUS Derivatives Exchange Limited (PLUS-DX).

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London-listed Misys secures anti-trust approval for takeover by Vista Equity

British banking software specialist Misys plc (LON:MSY) on Monday said it had secured anti-trust approval in Portugal for its takeover by US private equity and venture capital firm Vista Equity Partners and therefore the scheme court hearing will now take place on 28 May.

The hearing was delayed from 10 May as the two parties could not secure clearance in Portugal for their deal in time to meet this deadline, Misys explained.

The company’s independent directors announced the agreement with Vista on 19 March, saying the buyout firm would pay GBP3.50 (USD5.62/EUR4.40) a share for the British company, or some GBP1.27bn in total. The directors said the transaction provided Misys shareholders with certainty in cash, while acknowledging the company’s organic growth potential.

Subject to court approval and other conditions, the acquisition will complete on 1 June this year. Vista, which has said it would use equity and debt financing to fund the transaction, is expected to settle the payment for Misys by 14 June.

The private equity group plans to combine Misys with trade and risk management software provider Turaz to form a top global provider of financial services solutions with 1,700 customers around the world, it has said, adding it would delist the target after the deal.

Misys has some 4,200 employees and works with over 100 partners globally serving customers in more than 120 countries. It has a client base of over 1,300, including all the top 50 banks worldwide.

HSBC agrees to sell Latin American operations to Columbia’s Banco GNB

British banking group HSBC Holdings Plc (LON:HSBA) announced it had agreed to sell its operations in Colombia, Peru, Uruguay and Paraguay to Colombian peer Banco GNB Sudameris SA, owned by the Gilinski Group, for USD400m (EUR310.5m) in cash.

HSBC expects to close the divestment of the activities in Colombia and Peru in the fourth quarter of the year, while the sale of the businesses in Uruguay and Paraguay is seen to be concluded in the first quarter of 2013, it said. All of the transactions are conditional and need to obtain regulatory clearance. The total purchase price will be adjusted to reflect the divested businesses’ net asset value at completion.

The company unveiled that its Latin American unit was holding talks on the matter last week. The disposals are part of HSBC’s strategy and mirror its desire to concentrate on the operations with the greatest potential for sustainable growth, said Antonio Losada, president and chief executive officer of HSBC Latin America and the Caribbean.

The activities being sold consists of 62 branches throughout four countries and had a gross asset value of USD4.5bn as at the end of December 2011.

London-based HSBC is a banking and financial services organisation with around 7,200 offices in more than 80 countries worldwide. At the end of March 2012, the group’s assets amounted to USD2.64trn.

Click here for more on HSBC‘s asset sales

US recruiting firm CTParners agrees to acquire German rival Farin & Co

US executive recruiter CTPartners Executive Search Inc (NYSEAMEX:CTP) said it had put its signature on a letter of intent (LoI) for the purchase of German-based peer Farin & Company.

CTPartners offered no information with regard to pricing arrangements between the parties or any other deal specifics such as conditions and timeframe for closure.

The target company is headquartered in Hamburg and focuses on executive recruitment, development and corporate learning. It was founded in 2010 by Annika Farin, who was a partner in a major multi-national headhunting firm before establishing her own company.

Farin will be put in charge of CTPartners’ German operations and made managing partner at the group. According to her, CTPartners has an unrivalled global platform and by becoming part of it, Farin & Company will be able to extend its reach and address the growing needs of its customers.

CTPartners’ chief executive Brian Sullivan stated that both companies were committed to quality and it was an exciting opportunity to have the dedicated and experienced team of Farin & Company on board.

The US firm has been in business for more than three decades and has customers all over the world. Its corporate headquarters are located in New York and it also operates 24 offices across 15 countries. CTPartners employs more than 400 people, serving clients in industries such as financial services, life sciences, retail, technology, media and telecommunications.

German Fresenius to raise €1bn via share issue to fund Rhoen-Klinikum buy

German healthcare group Fresenius SE & Co KGaA (ETR:FRE) said its management and supervisory boards had decided to raise about EUR1bn (USD1.3bn) via the placement of 13.8m new shares with institutional investors to help finance its planned EUR3.1bn buy of domestic hospital operator Rhoen-Klinikum AG (ETR:RHK).

The Else Kroner-Fresenius-Foundation will participate in the capital hike with at least EUR90m, Fresenius said.

The accelerated bookbuilt is being run by Deutsche Bank AG (ETR:DBK), JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM) and Societe Generale SA (EPA:GLE).
Fresenius announced on 26 April plans to launch a EUR22.50 a share voluntary public takeover offer in cash for Rhoen-Klinikum in a move to boost its hospital business.

It said then it would finance the deal with a syndicated loan, a bond issue and equity instruments.

The deal will combine Fresenius’ Helios with Rhoen-Klinikum to create the largest private hospital operator in Germany with around EUR6bn in annual revenues and significant cost and growth synergies, the buyer said.

The offer is subject to an acceptance level of 90% and regulatory clearance.

The buyer said it would publish the detailed offer documents in the second half of May, with the hope of closing the transaction in the third quarter of 2012.

Rhoen-Klinikum, running 53 hospitals and 39 healthcare centres, reported EUR2.6bn in sales and a net income of EUR161m last year.

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Twitter acquires social marketing company RestEngine

US RestEngine, a social marketing automation platform company, has agreed to be acquired by social networking and microblogging service Twitter, the company said without providing financial details.

The target company helps social app publishers send targeted one-to-one emails based on a subscriber’s social graph. RestEngine added that it is excited to concentrate on its email skills and marketing automation expertise on a much larger scale at Twitter.

TechCrunch reported that the transaction is in line with the buyer’s Summify talent acquisition which was recently carried out. The target company may also help Twitter provide email digests of important tweets missed by its users.

Twitter will welcome three of the four company founders together with RestEngine’s technology. Joe Waltman, co-founder, has decided to focus on different projects, TechCrunch reported. The latter was cited as saying by the news website that the agreement was inked two weeks ago. Waltman also said that Twitter had notified the target company that it will welcome to its team everyone willing to join the social network giant.

The buyer, one of the biggest real-time information networks, was formed in 2006. Individuals and organisation share small bursts of information called Tweets with each Tweet containing up to 140 characters. The company is located in San Francisco and has offices in New York. The firm’s staff stands at more than 600. A 2011 funding valued the service at USD8.4bn (EUR6.4bn).

Sponsor Altor exits Dutch Meyn Food via sale to Berkshire-controlled CTB

Altor Equity Partners said on Friday that its Altor 2003 Fund had struck an agreement to sell Meyn Holding BV, the parent of Dutch poultry processing equipment maker Meyn Food Processing Technology BV, to CTB Inc, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc (NYSE:BRK.A).

CTB, with a long history in food equipment, is a well suited owner for Meyn Altor, capable of developing the company further, Bengt Maunsbach, partner at Altor Equity Partners AB, said.

Altor, which bought Meyn in 2005, has expanded the business to reach EUR205m (USD270m) in revenues in 2011 from EUR98m in 2004, with its EBITDA growing over that period at an annual pace of 15%.

The company doubled to 1,000 its staff under Altor’s ownership and increased to 60% from 30% the share of sales in fast growing emerging markets, the vendor said.

Victor A. Mancinelli, CTB’s president and CEO, expressed his satisfaction with the deal which he expects to significantly add to CTB’s food equipment sector portfolio, he said.

Altor was advised by Nomura International Plc and Van Doorne.

Meyn develops, manufactures, markets and distributes its poultry processing solutions globally to industrial poultry processors in over 90 countries.

Financial details of the deal were not provided. Completion is pending approval by competition agencies and the Dutch works council.

JP Morgan and private equity arm to invest in Technicolor

JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM) and its private equity arm One Equity Partners will invest in an up to EUR158m (USD208m) capital hike at Technicolor SA (EPA:TCH) with the aim of taking a stake of between 25% and 29.96% in the French broadcasting technology and services company, the latter said on Thursday.

The investment by JPMorgan, which already holds 1% in Technicolor, will help the French group improve its balance sheet and give it additional capabilities to implement its growth strategy under the Amplify 2015 plan.

Technicolor’s CEO, Frederic Rose, welcomed the US investment bank as a significant long-term shareholder, saying that the investment showed confidence in the company and its strategy and growth potential.

In turn, David Walsh, managing director at One Equity Partners, said his firm was looking forward to working with Technicolor’s management towards implementing its growth strategy through increasing top market positions and achieving its financial objectives.

Technicolor will use 80% of the cash from the capital hike to reduce debt by between EUR118m and EUR126m. This will increase its financial flexibility and allow it to carry out its Amplify 2015 plan aimed at converting the company into a leader in innovation in media monetisation solutions.

After the deal, the buyer will have two directors in Technicolor’s nine-member board.

The transaction and the board changes are subject to clearance by Technicolor’s shareholders at their meeting on 20 June 2012, as well as regulatory approvals.

JPMorgan will keep the Technicolor shares for at least one year after the acquisition wraps up. The French group announced on Wednesday a board meeting to discuss an offer for a minority stake received from an institutional investor, whose name it did not disclose at the time.

Technicolor, present in Europe, Asia and the Americas, offers services for content creators, digital home products, software service platforms and research and licensing.

Thermo Fisher acquires Doe & Ingalls for $175m in cash

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc (NYSE:TMO), the US provider of analytical and laboratory products and services, announced the acquisition of North Carolina-based Doe & Ingalls Management LLC in a cash deal valued at about USD175m (EUR132m).

Doe & Ingalls serves life sciences and microelectronics sector players by providing them with speciality production chemicals and supply-chain services tailored to their specific needs.

Service offerings such as MOR, Smart Sourcing and Streamline are designed for the purpose of managing risk, quality and overall costs in the chemical supply chain associated with manufacturing activities.

The company has established service centres in key North American biopharmaceutical and microelectronics hubs. In 2011, Doe & Ingalls delivered revenues of about USD110m.

Thermo Fisher will integrate Doe & Ingalls into its Customer Channels business, which in turn operates within the Laboratory Products and Services Segment.

Thermo Fisher’s president and CEO Marc N. Casper said the addition of Doe & Ingalls would open up new growth opportunities as the channel capabilities of Thermo Fisher combine with the comprehensive production chemicals line of Doe & Ingalls and its related services.

The acquisition brings in products and services that will enhance value for customers by addressing their production needs. Historically, Thermo Fisher has mostly catered to the research needs of its vast customer base, Casper noted.