Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Notablecalls - Paperstand

According to The Wall Street Journal, citing ppl familiar with the matter, Blackstone Group is considering a possible bid to top the $21.3bn leveraged buyout of hospital chain HCA (HCA). Deliberations over a bid, which is far from certain, are still in the early stages, and Blackstone hasn't yet invited other private-equity firms to join any potential offer.

The WSJ reports that to maintain his family's representation on the board of TD Ameritrade (AMTD), Chmn J. Joe Ricketts agreed to acquire millions of co shares. His purchase last week of nearly $114m of stock suggests he views this as a good time to meet that obligation. According to Chris Long, an analyst for data provider Washington Service, Mr. Ricketts's insider purchase was the largest by an individual executive or director at any company in more than a year.

The NY Post has learned that the auction for The Jones Apparel Group (JNY) is near death over price and concerns about the health of the co's brands, which include Jones New York, Anne Klein and Nine West. Two bidders, including Bain Capital, are still interested in acquiring the co, but the likelihood of reaching an agreement has diminished considerably in recent weeks, as price remains an obstacle. "I wouldn't say the Jones auction is dead," one person said. "But it's on life support." Jones' board is said to want no less than $34 a share, well above the co's current stock price.

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