Monday, April 23, 2007


ABN Amro (ABN) and Barclays (BCS) announced Mon they have agreed to merge, in one of the largest cross-border combinations in European banking history. The deal involves Barclays offering $49.27 for each ABN share. As part of the deal, ABN announced it is selling its US unit LaSalle Bank to Bank of America Corp. for $21bn in cash. Arthur Martinez will be the Chmn of the new combination, while John Varley will be named CEO.

The WSJ reports, that AstraZeneca (AZN) last night was near the purchase of MedImmune (MEDI) for more than $13bn. Barring any last-minute snags, the transaction could be announced as early as this morning. That represents a premium of more than 15% to where the company's shares finished Fri. At least 4 large co’s were involved in the final auction process, said ppl familiar with the negotiations, including Eli Lilly (LLY), which has a deep history of avoiding large M&A transactions. But AstraZeneca prevailed in the end, willing to step up with its large price.

Notablecalls: Those bidders who were left empty handed, will certainly start seeking new M&A targets.

The WSJ reports that Research In Motion (RIMM) is set to launch new software that will allow features of its BlackBerry device - including email, a chat function and electronic maps - to be used on non-BlackBerry devices. Later this year RIM will begin selling the software, which initially will be available only for some devices equipped with Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows Mobile. RIM is planning to sell the software through its online store and through wireless carriers, according to Jim Balsillie, RIM's co-CEO. Pricing of the software hasn't yet been set. RIM says it also plans to eventually release versions for other mobile OS.

According to the WSJ, representatives of Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda, which has proposed a $4.5bn acquisition of DaimlerChrysler's (DCX) Chrysler Group, met yesterday with United Auto Workers members who have separately proposed an employee-stock-ownership plan for Chrysler. DCX and its bankers have focused on discussions with 3 potential buyers: Cerberus Capital Mgmt, the team of Blackstone Partners and Centerbridge Capital Partners, and auto supplier Magna Intl. (MGA). Tracinda, in its proposal to DCX, said it would consider giving the UAW a stake as part of a new capital structure. The proposal would give the union equity in return for giving up some future benefits. This idea, swapping the retirement health-care debts owed to UAW workers for equity in their employers, is getting increasing attention among Detroit leaders. Ppl familiar with the situation say Tracinda wants to leave the door open to further discussions with the UAW Local 12 group, the one proposing an employee-stock-ownership plan, and others that might join an effort to promote an employee-led deal. The group of UAW assembly workers is suggesting employees could buy 70% of Chrysler.

Barron’s Online “Inside Scoop” section reports that George Soros disclosed that he beneficially held 20.49m shares, or an 11.5% stake, in JetBlue (JBLU) at the end of ‘06. Ben Silverman, of, says Soros has "been decreasing his stake over the years" in JetBlue. Adjusting for stock splits, his stake has gone from 22.4% in ‘02 to 17.3% in ‘03 to 16% in ‘04 to 14.5% in ‘05 and to 11.5% at the end of ‘06.

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