Swatch acquires acquires Canadian watchmaker Harry Winston

Swiss watches and jewellery maker The Swatch Group Ltd has inked an agreement to acquire the luxury brand diamond jewellery and timepiece division of Canada’s Harry Winston Diamond Corp (TSE:HW), the parties said on Monday.

The price tag of the takeover is USD750m (EUR560.4m), plus the assumption of up to USD250m of pro-forma net debt. Swatch will acquire US-based HW Holdings Inc and its unit Harry Winston Inc, as well as the production company in Geneva, Switzerland. It will add the business’ 535-strong global workforce.

The deal, which has yet to obtain the requisite regulatory approvals, does not include the mining business of Harry Winston Diamond Corp, which in connection with the transaction, has agreed to be renamed Dominion Diamond Corp.

The target is viewed as complementary to Swatch’s prestige segment, the buyer’s chariwoman Nayla Hayek noted.

The move represents a sound return on the original investment in the Harry Winston brand, the vendor’s CEO Robert Gannicott said.

Rothschild served as advisor to Harry Winston Diamond Corp on the deal.

US fashion group Gap to acquire Intermix for $130m

US fashion company The Gap Inc (NYSE:GPS) has agreed to acquire women’s fashion boutique Intermix Inc for USD130m (EUR98.8m), the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.

The deal represents Gap’s first acquisition since 2008 when it bought women’s active apparel retailer Athleta Inc for USD150m.

The target operates 30 stores in the US and Canada and Gap plans to double them and expand the chain overseas, Art Peck, president in charge of new brands at Gap, told the WSJ.

Intermix’s private-equity owner, Goode Partners LLC, and Gap started takeover discussions in late October 2012 and completed them at the end of last year, Intermix founder and CEO Khajak Keledjian said. Goode Partners owned a 40% stake in the retailer, which generates annual sales of some USD130, according to a knowledgeable source.

As part of the deal, Keledjian will remain at the company as chief creative officer.

Mexican Coca Cola bottler Femsa acquires Coca Cola bottling unit in Philippines for $689m

Coca-Cola Femsa SAB de CV (MXK:KOFL), the bottler of Coca Cola in Mexico, said on Friday it would pay USD688.5m (EUR525.3m) in cash to buy 51% in The Coca-Cola Company’s (NYSE:KO) bottling unit in the Philippines.

The deal, which allows Coca-Cola Femsa to expand beyond Latin America, gives the buyer the option to purchase the remaining 49% in Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc (CCBPI) at any time within the next six years.

Coca-Cola Femsa will increase its exposure to fast-growing emerging economies with this acquisition, expecting profitable growth and long-term returns in these economies, it said.

The transaction, reflecting an enterprise value of USD1.35bn for CCBPI, is seen to wrap up in early 2013.

CCBPI runs 23 production plants, serving nearly 800,000 customers and is expected to sell some 530m unit cases of beverages in 2012.

The buyer’s advisors include Allen & Company LLC, Rothschild, Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton LLP and SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan.

UK’s Pace in early talks to acquire Google’s Motorola Home unit

UK set-top boxes manufacturer Pace Plc (LON:PIC) confirmed it had made an indicative, non-binding proposal and was currently in preliminary talks over a potential deal to buy Google Inc’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Motorola Home business unit.

The statement was issued in response to media speculation over an offer from Pace.

The share of the UK suitor were suspended from trading until sufficient information is provided on a potential transaction, or an announcement is made that negotiations ended, the buyer said.

A deal, if reached, would be carried out as a reverse takeover, but there is no guarantee that the ongoing talks would lead to an agreement, Pace explained. Its board would only pursue a transaction if it served the best interest of shareholders, it added.

Reuters cited Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser as saying that, based on how the deal is structured, Google could get a price in the range of billions of dollars for the Motorola Home business. Meanwhile, an earlier report by Bloomberg quoting an unnamed source, said Google was seeking USD2bn (EUR1.5bn) for the unit.

The target business delivered revenues of USD797m and an operating result of USD25m in the third quarter, as Google’s financial results show. It makes set-top boxes for digital and Internet protocol (IP) video, satellite and terrestrial broadcast networks and Internet protocol television (IPTV) distribution systems, broadband access network infrastructure platforms, as well as software solutions for cable TV and telecommunication service providers.

The web search giant bought it as part of its USD12.5bn purchase in May of Motorola Mobility.

HSBC sells stake in Asian JV with Global Payments for $242m

US payment processing services provider Global Payments Inc (NYSE:GPN) has executed an agreement that will give it full ownership of the Asian-Pacific joint venture established in partnership with The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC).

HSBC, a subsidiary of UK-based banking giant HSBC Holdings plc (LON:HSBA), will receive USD242m (EUR187m) for its 44% stake in Global Payments Asia Pacific Limited.

The two companies teamed up in 2006, creating a joint business to provide regional merchants with payment processing services. Global Payments will remain a preferred strategic partner to HSBC in the Asia-Pacific as the companies continue to cooperate across 11 markets in the area of card acquiring services.

Global Payments expects the acquisition to have a favourable impact on its 2013 financial results and its guidance for the year reflects the anticipated effect, the group said.

Private equity firm Investindustrial invests £150m in Aston Martin

European private equity firm Investindustrial said on Friday it agreed to buy a 37.5% stake in UK sports and luxury cars maker Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd for GBP150m (USD240.4m/EUR186m) via a capital increase.

The statement came to confirm an earlier report by Reuters that a deal might be announced today.

The private equity investor, controlled by the Italian Bonomi family, managed to oust Indian commercial utility vehicles company Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, which was the frontrunner in the race for the stake. Under the terms of the transaction, Investindustrial will get proportional voting rights in the target. Kuwaiti Investment Dar Company KSC will retain its major interest in the UK firm.

In a separate announcement, Aston Martin said that the current deal gives it an enterprise value of GBP780m compared to a value of GBP630 before the agreement, and does not include a technical partnership deal with Daimler AG’s (ETR:DAI) Mercedes, contrary to some analysts’ expectations. Aston Martin also unveiled plans to put more than GBP500m into a new product and technology programme over the next five years. It noted that it would keep its production facility in Gaydon, Warwickshire.

The deal is seen to secure regulatory approval in the first quarter of 2013.

Sponsor Apollo acquires UK jewellery chain operator Aurum

US private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE:APO) said it had struck a definitive deal to buy UK luxury jewellery retailer Aurum Holdings Limited.

The investor did no say how much it would pay for the business.

Aurum, which was founded in 2004 and based in based in Leicester, UK, owns and operates a chain of jewellery and watches stores in the country. Its portfolio includes the Watches of Switzerland, Mappin & Webb and Goldsmiths brands.

The company was initially created by bankrupt Icelandic investor Baugur Group, which acquired and merged the UK high street jewellery stores under the Aurum name.

As part of Apollo, Aurum will be in a position to benefit from its retail industry expertise, resources and capabilities across the leisure and commodities sectors, the target’s CEO Justin Stead said.

The deal, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2013. Apollo took counsel from DC Advisory in connection with the transaction.

Czech government in talks to sell flag carrier Ceske Aerolinie

The Czech government is holding early-stage discussions with Korean Air Lines Co Ltd (KRX:003490) and Qatar Airways about the sale of troubled flag carrier Ceske Aerolinie AS, known as Czech Airlines (CSA), prime minister Petr Necas said today.

The cabinet will decide whether to sell CSA as early as April 2013 after considering possible bids from the two airlines, which are expected by the end of January, he said.

The privatisation process started in 2009 after the carrier posted severe losses from an unsuccessful expansion plan. Then, the only suitor, Czech charter airline Travel Service AS, dropped its bid as it was unwilling to buy CSA without getting a capital injection from the government.

CSA, which is owned by the operator of the Prague airport Czech Aeroholding AS, posted a loss of CZK241m (USD12.5m/EUR9.6m) in 2011. Back in September, the European Commission approved a EUR100m (USD130.7m) state aid for the carrier.

Philip Green considers selling a stake in retailer Topshop — report

UK businessman Philip Green is reportedly negotiating the sale of a non-controlling stake in local clothing retailers Topshop and Topman with a US buyout firm, Reuters reported, citing a source in the know.

On Tuesday, Sky News reported that US private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners LP was holding discussions with a view to buying into the high street chains in a transaction valuing the two businesses at nearly GBP1bn (USD1.6bn/EUR1.23bn). Leonard Green is already in the retail business through US clothing chain J Crew, which it owns jointly with larger peer TPG Capital LP.

The targeted 25% stake would be ring-fenced from the businessman’s Arcadia Group Limited, which also owns high street clothing retailers Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Wallis and BHS.

The parties are expected to unveil discussions about the deal tomorrow, according to the insider.

When contacted by Reuters, Philip Green did not wish to comment, while Leonard Green was not available for comment.

Arcadia recorded GBP2.68bn in sales from its 2,500 domestic stores and 615 franchised units in 39 countries in its fiscal year to 25 August.

Topshop Ltd operates stores that sell clothing and fashion products for women. Topman is the stand-alone fashion business counterpart of Topshop that caters exclusively to men’s clothing.

Blackstone to acquire Intertrust from Dutch sponsor Waterland

US buyout firm The Blackstone Group LP (NYSE:BX) has entered into an agreement to acquire trust and corporate services provider Intertrust Group Holding SA from Dutch investor Waterland Private Equity Investments BV, the target said on its website.

Intertrust did not unveil the value of the transaction, but Dutch daily Het Financieele Dagblad reported it may be around EUR675m (USD883m). The sum is equal to nine times Intertrust’s gross operating profit of EUR75m.

The transaction is scheduled for completion in the coming months once the parties secure the needed regulatory nods.

Intertrust said it expects to receive many opportunities to extend its service offering. The company’s head office is located in Geneva, Switzerland, while its largest operational office is in the Netherlands.