UK’s ITE acquires stake in Indian exhibition group ABEC from Qatar’s QInvest

UK trade exhibitions specialist ITE Group Plc (LON:ITE) said on Tuesday it had bought a 28.3% stake in Asian Business Exhibitions & Conferences Ltd (ABEC) of India from Qatar-based investment bank QInvest LLC for INR1.23bn (USD22.5m/EUR17.2m) in cash.

The transaction is being carried out by ITE’s wholly-owned unit Airgate Holdings Ltd. The buyer will be funding the acquisition from its existing cash resources and agreed debt facilities. It noted it had received an option to raise its interest in the future.

ITE expects the stake purchase to be neutral to earnings for the fiscal year to 30 September 2013.

ABEC is India’s largest private exhibition organiser with its 8% market share. The business runs 19 exhibitions throughout 11 vertical markets such as construction, architecture, design, education, lifestyle, real estate as well as oil and gas.

For the fiscal year to 31 March 2012, ABEC registered profits of INR140m and revenues of INR1.1bn. Its gross assets amounted to INR1.7bn at closing.

Singapore Airlines in talks with potential buyers of Virgin Atlantic stake

Singapore Airlines Ltd (SGX:C6L) announced today it was negotiating with interested parties a potential sale of its 49% stake in UK airline Virgin Atlantic Limited.

The Singaporean company did not unveil the names of these entities, but informed sources told Reuters that US-based Delta Air Lines Inc (NYSE:DAL) was among them. Two of the insiders noted that the latter seeks to get access to Virgin’s landing rights at the Heathrow airport in London.

The US airline has been mulling over collaborating with Air France-KLM (EPA:AF) on the purchase as the European Union demands that local carriers remain under European control. One of the options is that the French company takes a small interest in Virgin from its founder Richard Branson, who owns the other 51%.

Reuters said that representatives for Virgin and Delta had declined to comment, while Air France had not not immediately available to do so.

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines warned that the ongoing discussions are not certain to lead to a deal.

Pfizer completes $11.85bn sale of infant nutrition business to Nestle

US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE) said it had completed the divestment of its infant nutrition business, Pfizer Nutrition, to Swiss food group Nestle SA (VTX:NESN) for USD11.85bn (EUR9.1bn) in cash.

The deal, which was agreed in April, has secured antitrust clearance in most of the markets, the vendor said. The regulatory approval process is still underway in Kenya, South Africa and five Latin American countries. In these markets Pfizer will continue to operate the business on an interim basis, it said, adding that with the completion of the sale, it would launch a new USD10bn share repurchase programme.

In a separate statement, Nestle stated that the deal, which would add some 4,500 Pfizer Nutrition employees, would bolster its infant nutrition business in key segments and geographies. It has previously said that it would cover a portion of the purchase price with a 364-day bridge loan worth USD8.5bn from a syndicate of banks.

Concerning the countries where the regulatory process has not finished yet, the buyer will continue exploring strategic options, it noted.

Pfizer took counsel from Morgan Stanley & Co LLC, Centerview Advisors LLC, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Clifford Chance LLP and DLA Piper LLP on the deal.

France’s L’Oreal acquires Urban Decay Cosmetics from sponsor Castanea

French cosmetics group L’Oreal SA (EPA:OR) announced today it had agreed to buy US-based make-up specialist Urban Decay Cosmetics LLC from private equity firm Castanea Partners Inc for an undisclosed sum.

The transaction is awaiting regulatory clearance and is scheduled for completion by the end of the year. Through it, L’Oreal will complement its own portfolio of brands.

Commenting on the deal, L’Oreal USA’s CEO Frederic Roze stated it will enhance the company’s position in the assisted self-service and e-commerce distribution channels in the US.

Based in Newport Beach, California, Urban Decay offers products in the eye category like Naked Palette and Naked Skin. The business achieved sales of USD130m (EUR100.3m) in the fiscal year to June 2012.

German Software AG has €1bn to spend on acquisitions — report

Germany-based Software AG (ETR:SOW) can “theoretically” afford an acquisition of as much as EUR1bn (USD1.3bn), German daily Die Welt said Sunday, citing chief financial officer Arnd Zinnhardt.

The business software developer is currently interested in firms involved in cloud computing or big data analysis, according to Zinnhardt.

So far, Software AG’s biggest acquisition is the EUR487m takeover in 2009 of German sector firm IDS Scheer, which develops, markets and supports Business Process Management (BPM) software.

At present Software AG is the fourth largest enterprise software provider in Europe, according to its website, with 2011 revenues of about EUR1.1bn.

Chemical giant BASF to table bid $843m bid for Norway’s Pronova BioPharma

German chemical major BASF AG (ETR:BAS) said Wednesday it would launch a voluntary public cash offer to acquire Norwegian omega-3 fatty acids producer Pronova BioPharma ASA (PINK:PVNAY) in a deal with an enterprise value of NOK4.845bn (USD843m/EUR660m).

The parties have agreed upon the offer, which will be executed via BASF’s fully-controlled Norwegian arm, BASF AS. Pronova’s board and management have recommended stockholder acceptance of the NOK12.50-per-share bid, which is 24% higher than the volume-weighted average share price for Pronova’s stock for the last six months.

BASF said it intends to bankroll the offer with available resources.

So far, the German company has secured pre-acceptance commitments for some 60% of Pronova, including the 50% interest held by Herkules Private Equity Fund via Herkules Private Equity (Jersey-I) LP and Herkules Private Equity (Jersey-II) LP, some 9.1% indirectly held by Kistefos AS and Kistefos Investment AS and a 0.3% interest held by Pronova board members and managers.

Through the planned takeover, BASF expects to considerably beef up its presence in the omega-3 fatty acids market.

Finland’s Alma Media acquires Daily Mail’s Eastern European online job portals

Finnish media company Alma Media Corp (HEL:ALN1V) said it had purchased the Eastern European job portal assets of A&N Media Ltd, which is wholly owned by Britain’s Daily Mail and General Trust Plc (LON:DMGT), in a deal with an enterprise value of EUR24m (USD30.6m).

The transaction, which was bankrolled from existing credit facilities, reflects Alma Media’s strategy to pursue growth from digital services and increase internationalisation, it said.

As part of  the deal, Alma Media has acquired Slovakian recruitment service Profesia sro, which is also present in the Czech Republic and Hungary with job portals, Croatian job portal operator Tau on-line doo, Slovakian used car portal service Autovia sro, as well as a 25% interest in Serbian recruitment and car portal Infostud 3 doo and a 30% stake in Bosnian job portal Development Studio doo.

The acquisition complements Alma Media’s recruitment service offering n the Czech Republic, the Baltic countries and Finland and is seen to result in synergies between the operating countries, the buyer noted.

Revenue corresponding to the purchased assets amounted to about EUR8.5m for the twelve months to September 2012, with and EBITDA-margin of about 33%.

London-listed miner BHP sells diamond operation to Canada’s Harry Winston

Global miner BHP Billiton Plc (LON:BLT) said it had sealed a deal to shed its diamonds business to Canada-based Harry Winston Diamond Mines Ltd for about USD500m (EUR394.2m) in cash.

The transaction would involve the company’s Ekati diamond mine in Canada and its diamonds marketing activities. Harry Winston would also take on all of the company’s employees working from Yellowknife, Canada and Antwerp, Belgium.

The particular mine is minority-held by certain joint venture parties which have pre-emptive rights to acquire BHP Billiton’s stake. They have 60 days to decide on whether to exercise those rights, with the deal being subject to their waiver or expiration.

The sale is also awaiting regulatory approval and is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2013. It mirrors BHP Billiton’s “ongoing pursuit of a simpler business”, as noted by the company’s CEO non-ferrous Andrew Mackenzie. The divestment would lead to an impairment of some USD200m to the carrying value of the asse

TV ratings firm Nielsen invests in social media measurement firm SocialGuide

Netherlands-based information and measurement company Nielsen Holdings NV (NYSE:NLSN) and NM Incite LLC, a provider of social media software, research and advisory, unveiled the purchase of US sector firm SocialGuide Inc.

Financial details were not disclosed. NM Incite is Nielsen’s joint venture with US management consulting services Provider McKinsey & Company Inc.

The acquired business offers social TV measurement, analytics and audience engagement solutions. It covers programming across 232 US TV channels in English and Spanish. Its intelligent analytics and engagement platform provides insight on the social impact of TV, enabling networks to engage with the social fan base in real time.

The deal bolsters Nielsen’s TV measurement solutions and social media analytics portfolio as well as NM Incite’s social media research and analytics capabilities. The acquired business will be folded into NM Incite, adding complementary software technology and data streams, the buyers added.

OFT refers Booker’s planned acquisition of Makro to competition watchdog

UK’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said it had sent the finalised acquisition by British food wholesaler Booker Group Plc (LON:BOK) of Makro Cash & Carry UK Holding Ltd to the Competition Commission (CC) for additional probe.

The move follows an investigation by the OFT, which has found that the combination could threaten competition between cash and carry outlets in the UK as it brings together two close competitors and reduces the number of national operators from four to three. Apart from Booker and Makro, the other rivals in the sector are Bestway Group and Costco Wholesale UK Ltd.

The probe, which took into account the results of a survey of some 4,000 customers across 22 local areas, as well as other evidence, has also revealed that the parties overlap in 13 local areas, the regulator said.

Booker signed a deal to buy Makro UK, the local wholesale operation of German retailer Metro AG (ETR:MEO), at the end of May for GBP15.8m (USD25.3m/EUR19.8m) in cash and new shares equal to a 9.99% stake, valued at GBP123.9m. The transaction was completed in July.

Amelia Fletcher, OFT chief economist involved in the investigation, commented that the sale of some outlets by Booker and Makro UK in connection with the deal was not enough to eliminate competition concerns. According to Fletcher, the reduced rivalry could prompt a surge in prices or weakened service to both retailers and caterers, as well as to consumers.