Monday, April 02, 2007

Paperstand (FDC LBO; GOOG vs MSFT; T for TI; AAPL)

The WSJ reports that Kohlberg Kravis Roberts is in late-stage negotiations to purchase First Data (FDC) for more than $24bn. KKR was hoping to make an official announcement over the next few days. The exact purchase price couldn't be learned yesterday, though two people described the price as a premium of at least 20% to First Data's mkt cap of about $20bn.

According to the WSJ, Google (GOOG) has emerged along with Microsoft (MSFT) as a contender to buy DoubleClick, presenting competition that stands to increase the final sale price of the online-advertising co. Microsoft has appeared less likely to win the bidding as the potential price for the co surpassed $2bn. But it is possible that Microsoft will counter.

The WSJ reports that AT&T (T) and affiliate seek Telecom Italia (TI) stake. Offers by AT&T and Mexican affiliate America Movile to take a combined 66.6% stake in the holding co that controls TI stand to accelerate consolidation among the world's largest telecom providers. The bids, which total about €2.6bn ($3.47bn), will first have to get past nationalist resistance from the Italian govt. The board of Italian tires-to-telecom group Pirelli yesterday said it had entered into exclusive talks with AT&T and America Movil to sell each co a 33.3% stake in the unlisted holding co Olimpia, which in turn owns 18% of Telecom Italia.

After months of drama in its boardroom and declining performance at its newspapers, Tribune (TRB) late yesterday appeared to be firming up a deal to sell itself to Sam Zell. Over the weekend, Tribune's special committee of the board reviewed competing offers from Mr. Zell and a joint bid from Eli Broad and Ron Burkle. Both offers propose taking the co private using an employee stock ownership plan.

AirTran (AAI) is expected to announce Monday that it is sweetening its takeover offer for Midwest Air (MEH) by about 13%, valuing the carrier at $389m. The higher cash-and-stock proposal, valued at $15 a share, is the latest attempt by AirTran to persuade Midwest to negotiate a deal that would unite two low-cost carriers.

In a major break with the music industry's longstanding antipiracy strategy, EMI Group is set to announce today that it plans to sell significant amounts of its catalog without anticopying software. The co is to make its announcement at a London news conference featuring Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs. EMI is to sell songs without the software, known as digital rights mgmt, through Apple's iTunes Store and possibly through other online outlets.

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