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Showing posts from June 30, 2014

Deals of the day- Mergers and acquisitions

The following bids, mergers, acquisitions and disposals were reported by 2000 GMT on Friday: ** Spain will sell up to 49 percent of heavily indebted AENA, the world's biggest airports operator valued at around 16 billion euros ($22 billion), Public Works Minister Ana Pastor said on Friday. ** Germany's Siemens and Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries are putting the finishing touches on a joint offer for Alstom's turbine businesses that includes a cash element of roughly 9 billion euros ($12.25 billion), sources close to the bidders said. As part of the deal, Mitsubishi and the French government would take equal stakes in Alstom, union representative said after a meeting with Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg. The offer would counter an existing $17 billion offer from General Electric. ** Travel website operator Priceline Group Inc said it would buy OpenTable Inc for $2.6 billion in cash as it looks to add restaurant bookings to its services. ** The board of I

PRESS DIGEST- Financial Times - June 13

The following are the top stories in the Financial Times. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. _0"> Headlines BNP TOP EXECUTIVE CHODRON DE COURCEL TO RETIRE AMID U.S. PROBE ( link.reuters.com/dew99v ) RETURN OF CORPORATE PC DEMAND BOOSTS INTEL ( link.reuters.com/bew99v ) TWITTER PARTS WAYS WITH CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER ( link.reuters.com/few99v ) TESLA MOTORS OPENS DOOR TO ELECTRIC VEHICLES' TECHNOLOGY SECRETS ( link.reuters.com/cew99v ) FRANCE DELIBERATES AFTER SIEMENS CHANGES TACK IN ALSTOM BID _0"> ( link.reuters.com/gew99v ) _1"> _2"> Overview _3"> _4"> Georges Chodron de Courcel, one of the most senior figures at BNP Paribas, has announced his retirement amid an escalating probe by U.S regulators in alleged sanctions violations at the French bank. _5"> Strong demand for business PCs drove U.S. chipmaker Intel to raise its second-quarter profit guidance, push

Liberty Global, Discovery in talks regarding F1 stake -report

John Malone's Liberty Global Plc and Discovery Communications Inc are in discussions with the owners of Formula One to bridge a $1 billion gap in the valuation of the motor-racing series as they seek to buy a 49 percent stake, according to Bloomberg. _0"> CVC Capital Partners, a London-based private equity firm, and Lehman Brothers Holdings want about $500 million more for the stake, the report said, citing people with knowledge of the matter. ( link.reuters.com/sew99v ) Discussions with CVC Capital Partners Ltd and Lehman Brothers are ongoing although a deal may not be reached, the report added. CVC remains the largest shareholder in Formula One with a stake of around 35 percent. CVC may also contemplate an initial public offering of Formula One, according to Bloomberg, although the sources added that it is unlikely to occur before the conclusion of a trial involving Chief Executive Officer Bernie Ecclestone. Discovery Communications and Liberty Global were not imm

UPDATE 2-Mexico's telecom regulator delays TV channel tender until September

Mexico's telecom regulator said on Thursday it would postpone the first stage of a tender for two new national TV channels from June to September, citing a delay in laws that should set out details of a sector overhaul approved in 2013. The Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) pushed back the start date for the bid process to Sept. 2 and 3. Bidders were originally asked to seek competition clearance from the new watchdog by June 16 and 17. The reform aims to boost competition in the phone business dominated by tycoon Carlos Slim's America Movil, as well as broadcasting, where Televisa is by far the biggest player. So-called secondary laws hashing out the fine print of the reform were due to be approved by December 2013, but political bickering and a heavy legislative agenda have delayed passage. Given the lag, "there is no certainty about some issues that may affect stakeholders' business plans, which could create a disincentive for investment," the boa

UPDATE 1-Talisman reviewing $4 bln Asia assets for possible sale-sources

Canada's Talisman Energy Inc is reviewing its Asian oil and gas portfolio, valued at about $4 billion, which could lead to a partial or full sale, people familiar with the matter said. Talisman, Canada's No. 5 independent oil producer, has been slimming its operations and cutting debt in an effort to boost its share price to satisfy disgruntled and activist investors such as Carl Icahn. The review marks a major shift in business strategy for a company that classifies its Asian portfolio as a core asset, and the review will force Talisman to make some tough choices. It is unclear whether it will opt to sell the entire portfolio or retain some assets, the people added. A partial listing of the assets is one of the options being discussed, they added. Talisman plans to put $2 billion worth of assets on the market in the next 12-18 months, after raising $6.6 billion through asset disposals since 2011, according the company website. The company does not disclose the names of th

Market Chatter- Corporate finance press digest

The following corporate finance-related stories were reported by media: _0"> * Private equity firm American Securities LLC is looking to merge three of its auto parts manufacturing companies and take the combined company public at a valuation of around $4 billion, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter. * Indonesia's Pertamina aims to sell several cargoes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in July, and is currently in discussion over exact loading dates, a person familiar with the matter said. * Siemens and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries are trying to beat a bid by U.S. conglomerate General Electric for Alstom with an offer that would focus on alliances with the French engineering group, sources said on Thursday. * Canada's Talisman Energy Inc is reviewing its Asian oil and gas portfolio, valued at about $4 billion, which could lead to a partial or full sale, people familiar with the matter said. * The initial public offering of Michaels Cos

INSIGHT-China port fraud probe prompted by corruption inquiry

The trail that led investigators to a suspected metal financing scam at China's Qingdao port which has spooked Western banks and hit global metals prices began with a Communist Party corruption probe 1,000 miles away in the old Silk Road city of Xining. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in late April that it was investigating the city's Party secretary, Mao Xiaobing, for suspected "serious discipline violations" - a term generally used to denote graft. What was not made public at the time was that the authorities were also investigating Mao's business associate Chen Jihong, a veteran aluminium and alumina trader and chairman of Qingdao-based Dezheng Resources Holding Co. Ltd. Dezheng's trading unit, Decheng Mining, is now at the centre of a separate probe into the alleged duplication of warehouse receipts to obtain multiple loans secured against a single cargo of metal, according to police sources with direct knowledge of the ma

UPDATE 1-Market Chatter-Corporate finance press digest

The following corporate finance-related stories were reported by media: * Thai telecommunications firm Samart Corporation Pcl has entered talks to buy a minority stake in its Samart I Mobile Pcl business from Malaysia's Axiata Group Bhd, a Samart Corp source told Reuters on Friday. * Private equity firm American Securities LLC is looking to merge three of its auto parts manufacturing companies and take the combined company public at a valuation of around $4 billion, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter. * Siemens and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries are trying to beat a bid by U.S. conglomerate General Electric for Alstom with an offer that would focus on alliances with the French engineering group, sources said on Thursday. * Canada's Talisman Energy Inc is reviewing its Asian oil and gas portfolio, valued at about $4 billion, which could lead to a partial or full sale, people familiar with the matter said. * The initial public offering of Michae

TPG agrees to buy Australia property firm DTZ from UGL for $1.1 bln -source

A consortium led by global private equity firm TPG Capital Management LP has agreed to buy the property arm of Australian engineering services company UGL Ltd for A$1.215 billion ($1.14 billion), a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Friday. _0"> UGL put the unit DTZ on sale to cut debt as its main engineering services division faces declining revenues due to a slowdown in the Australian mining sector. TPG's consortium partners include Hong Kong private equity firm PAG and Canada's Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, the source added. A deal is expected to be signed as early as Friday, the source said, declining to identified as the decision is not public yet. UGL was not available for immediate comment, while TPG declined to comment. PAG and OTPP could not be immediately reached for comment. ($1 = 1.0620 Australian Dollars) (Reporting by Stephen Aldred ; Additional reporting by Byron Kaye in SYDNEY; Editing by Denny Thomas and Ryan Woo

Merlin private equity backers sell $615 mln stake

Two of Merlin Entertainments' private equity backers sold 100 million shares in the British theme park owner for 366 million pounds ($615 million) on Friday, according to Deutsche Bank, one of the banks handling the sale. _0"> Plans to place the shares by CVC Capital Partners Ltd and Blackstone Group LP via Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley were announced after Thursday's close. Merlin is the world's second-biggest operator of visitor attractions behind Walt Disney with brands such as Madam Tussauds and Legoland and counted Blackstone and CVC as its biggest shareholders after Kirkbi A/S, according to Thomson Reuters data. ($1 = 0.5956 British Pounds) (Reporting by Steve Slater ; Editing by Pamela Barbaglia)

Greece's Alpha confirms purchase of Citibank's Greek retail ops

Alpha Bank, Greece's fourth-biggest lender by assets, said on Friday it agreed to acquire Citibank's retail banking operations in Greece at a price of 2 million euros ($2.72 million). _0"> "Under the agreement, the acquired operations comprise Citi's wealth management unit with customers' assets under management of about 2.1 billion euros, out of which deposits of about 1 billion euros, net loans, mainly credit card balances, of 0.4 billion, as well as a retail branch network of 20 units which serves 480,000 clients," Alpha said. The statement confirms sources telling Reuters on Thursday that the deal was imminent. ($1 = 0.7345 Euros) (Reporting by Harry Papachristou)

BMW says met Tesla executives to discuss electric cars

German premium auto maker BMW on Friday said its managers had met with executives from U.S.-based electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc to talk about potential cooperation on electric mobility. _0"> "Both companies are strongly committed to the success of electro-mobility and discussed how to further strengthen the development of electro mobility on an international level," a BMW spokesman said in a statement. BMW said the meeting had taken place on Wednesday but declined to comment in detail about the nature of the talks, or about which BMW executives has met with Tesla. (Reporting by Edward Taylor ; Editing by Jonathan Gould )

UPDATE 1-Alpha to buy Citibank's Greek retail business

Alpha Bank, Greece's fourth-biggest lender by assets, said on Friday it had agreed to buy Citibank's loss-making retail operations in Greece for 2 million euros ($2.72 million), the latest deal in the sector's consolidation. Greece's debt crisis has hammered its banking industry, prompting foreign players, including Credit Agricole, Societe Generale and Portugal's Millennium bcp , to sell local units to Greek lenders in recent years. Hit by a sovereign debt restructuring and rising loan impairments during a deep six-year economic slump, the industry has consolidated down to four big players after a wave of acquisitions and the winding down of non-viable banks. The fortunes of National, Piraeus, Eurobank, and Alpha, which now control more than 90 percent of the banking market, have begun to improve after two recapitalisations and regained capital market access. On Friday Eurobank said it had hired five investment banks to arrange a possible bond sale, becoming t

Ackman seeks court ruling on Allergan special meeting

William Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management said it had filed a lawsuit seeking confirmation that a requested special shareholder meeting of Allergan Inc's shareholders would not trigger Allergan's poison pill takeover defence. _0"> The Botox maker has rejected a $53 billion joint offer from Ackman and Canadian drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International . Allergan said in April that its board had adopted a one-year shareholder rights plan to give it more time to consider takeover proposals. Allergan's shareholder rights plan will trigger if a person or group acquires 10 percent or more of its shares. The lawsuit filed in Delaware Court of Chancery followed a request to Allergan from Pershing Square on June 6 seeking confirmation that Allergan would not use its poison pill to impede Ackman's request for a special meeting. A response from Allergan's counsel on Thursday did not provide that confirmation, Pershing Square said. Allergan

UPDATE 2-BMW and Tesla executives meet to discuss electric cars

Executives from German carmaker BMW and U.S.-based Tesla Motors Inc met this week in a move which could lead to the creation of charging stations usable for different types of electric cars. BMW and electric carmaker Tesla are seeking ways to raise the popularity of battery-powered vehicles, which consumers have shunned due to their limited operating range, the scarcity of charging stations and the time it takes to recharge them. "Both companies are strongly committed to the success of electro-mobility and discussed how to further strengthen the development of electro-mobility on an international level," a BMW spokesman said in a statement on Friday. BMW said the meeting had taken place on Wednesday but declined to comment in detail about the nature of the talks, or about which BMW executives had met with Tesla. In a conference call on Thursday, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said there had been talks with BMW about how to promote the use of electric vehicles and how t

Telecom Italia shake-up opens door to activist investors

For decades many of Italy's top companies have been in the grip of shareholder pacts, often stifling reform, but its largest telecoms operator, Telecom Italia, could soon break free, letting in activist investors who sense an opportunity for profitable change. The trigger could be as soon as June 15, when financial groups Mediobanca, Assicurazioni Generali and Intesa Sanpaolo could end a 2007 shareholder pact in Telco, the holding company that controls Telecom Italia . The tight control of Telco's core shareholders, led by Spanish telecom Telefonica, has discouraged most other investors from buying in. Marco Fossati, whose investment vehicle Findim owns 5 percent of the telecom, tried but failed in October to change Telecom Italia's board, which he said acted in the interests of the core shareholders, not the rest. But the recent appointment of an all-independent board and the likely dismantling of Telco make further change possible. Generali, which owns 19.3 percent

Priceline to buy OpenTable for $2.6 bln

Travel website owner Priceline Group Inc said it would buy restaurant reservation website operator OpenTable Inc for $2.6 billion in an all-cash deal. _0"> The offer of $103 per share represents a premium of 46 percent to OpenTable's Thursday close. (Reporting by Rohit T. K. in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel)

Wal-Mart to launch e-commerce marketplace in India in July

Wal-Mart Stores Inc will launch its business-to-business e-commerce platform in the Indian cities of Lucknow and Hyderabad in the first week of July, the world's largest retailer's India boss said on Friday. _0"> Sales through the firm's e-commerce service will be available only to its trader members, said Krish Iyer, India president and chief executive officer. Iyer said Wal-Mart would look at rolling out this service to other cities, but not for another six months at least. In April, Wal-Mart announced plans to open 50 more wholesale outlets in India and start online operations to sell to small shopkeepers, several months after it decided against opening its own retail stores. (Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Mark Potter )

DEALTALK-Drug-linked payouts: complex fix for Pfizer's next Astra bid?

The world's biggest would-be drugs merger hit a wall last month but speculation about smart ways that Pfizer could yet seal a deal with AstraZeneca remains intense. Even as talks fell apart last month, some in Pfizer's camp remained optimistic the transaction could be revived - and certain AstraZeneca advisers have not ruled out renewed talks. Under British takeover law, the UK firm can approach Pfizer at the end of August to discuss a sweetened bid, or Pfizer can try again in November. While the most obvious method for Pfizer to win AstraZeneca around might seem to be more cash, some hedge funds think the U.S. firm could structure payouts by tying them to the performance of key AstraZeneca drugs. A so-called contingent value right, or CVR, was a winning formula for Sanofi in its 2011 battle for Genzyme and the tradeable product - promising additional payouts once future benchmarks are hit - has been used in several other drug industry deals when the two sides could not ag

UPDATE 1-Ackman seeks court ruling on Allergan special meeting

William Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management on Friday it filed a lawsuit against Allergan Inc seeking confirmation that its request to hold a special meeting of Allergan shareholders would not trigger poison pill takeover defense. Ackman and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International are pursuing in a hostile takeover of Allergan. Ackman, who owns nearly 10 percent of Allergan, has called for a shareholder meeting to elect new directors to the company's board. The suit seeks to confirm that Ackman is not about to trigger Allergan's poison pill takeover defense as it seeks shareholder support for the meeting. Allergan, which makes Botox for wrinkles and other uses, has rejected a $53 billion joint offer from Ackman and Valeant. Ackman last week filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission that would start a proxy battle. Allergan and Valeant both declined to comment on the suit. Allergan adopted a one-year shareholder rights plan, often called a po

UPDATE 2-Priceline to buy OpenTable for $2.6 bln

Travel website owner Priceline Group Inc will buy restaurant reservation website operator OpenTable Inc for $2.6 billion, aiming to broaden its services outside the increasingly competitive online travel industry. Priceline's offer of $103 per share for the owner of OpenTable.com represents a premium of 46 percent to OpenTable's Thursday close. OpenTable's shares inched past the offer price to trade as high as $104.19 on the Nasdaq, suggesting that some investors expect a higher bid. Priceline's shares were down 1.6 percent at $1,205.50. Priceline, whose competitors include Expedia Inc and Orbitz Worldwide Inc, has a record of buying smaller companies and transforming them into large, successful businesses. With little room to expand, online travel companies are looking outside the industry to boost revenue and drive more customers to their websites by offering more of a one-stop shop for travelers by offering services at their destination. TripAdvisor Inc, for

BRIEF-CVC and Blackstone place 100 mln Merlin shares

Deutsche Bank : _0"> * CVC and Blackstone launch 100 mln share placing of Merlin via Deutsche Bank & Morgan Stanley Further company coverage:

CVC and Blackstone place 100 mln Merlin shares

Merlin Entertainments' private equity backers CVC Capital Partners Ltd and Blackstone Group LP are placing 100 million shares of the British theme park owner through Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank, the German lender said. _0"> Merlin, the world's second-biggest operator of visitor attractions behind Walt Disney with brands such as Madam Tussauds and Legoland, counts Blackstone and CVC as its biggest shareholders after Kirkbi A/S, according to Thomson Reuters data. (Reporting by Richa Naidu in Bangalore, editing by David Evans)

Merlin private equity backers sell $615 mln stake

Two of Merlin Entertainments' private equity backers sold 100 million shares in the British theme park owner for 366 million pounds ($615 million) on Friday, according to Deutsche Bank, one of the banks handling the sale. _0"> Plans to place the shares by CVC Capital Partners Ltd and Blackstone Group LP via Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley were announced after Thursday's close. Merlin is the world's second-biggest operator of visitor attractions behind Walt Disney with brands such as Madam Tussauds and Legoland and counted Blackstone and CVC as its biggest shareholders after Kirkbi A/S, according to Thomson Reuters data. ($1 = 0.5956 British Pounds) (Reporting by Steve Slater ; Editing by Pamela Barbaglia)

Diamond set to fall short of $400 mln fundraising goal -source

Former Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond is set to fall short of his target to raise another $400 million for his African banking venture Atlas Mara, a person with knowledge of the situation said. _0"> Diamond, who spearheaded the growth of Barclays' investment bank before being forced out as CEO in 2012 by UK regulators after the bank was fined for attempted rigging of Libor interest rates, plans to increase the war chest of his Atlas Mara vehicle to pursue more African acquisitions and grow the business faster. But some investors have balked at the fundraising so soon after it raised $325 million in its initial public offering in December, mainly due to concern about the illiquid nature of Atlas Mara shares, the source said. That is likely to see it fall short of the $400 million target, although the fundraising will not close until later this month, he said. The source said Diamond had received strong support from the current shareholder base. The Financial Time

BRIEF-Johnston Press says underwriters procure shares via rump placing

Johnston Press Plc : _0"> * Confirms that Panmure Gordon and JP Morgan Cazenove, in their capacity as underwriters, have procured subscribers for remaining 355,748,073 new ordinary shares for which valid acceptances were not received in respect of rights issue Source text for Eikon: Further company coverage:

New Issue- Compass Group prices dual tranche deal

Following are terms and conditions _0"> of a dual tranche deal priced on Friday. Tranche 1 * * * * Borrower Compass Group Plc Issue Amount 500 million euro Maturity Date January 27, 2023 Coupon 1.875 pct Reoffer price 99.004 Yield 2.003 pct Spread 65 basis points Underlying govt bond Over Mid-swaps, equivalent to 94.7bp Over the September 2022 DBR ISIN XS1079320203 * * * * Tranche 2 Borrower Compass Group Plc _0"> Issue Amount 250 million sterling _1"> Maturity Date June 26, 2026 _2"> Coupon 3.85 pct _3"> Reoffer price 99.737 _4"> Yield 3.841 pct _5"> Spread 98 basis points _6"> Underlying govt bond Over the 5.0 pct 2025 UKT _7"> ISIN XS1079317167 _8&quo

UPDATE 2-FDA delays decision on Orexigen's obesity drug by 3 months

Orexigen Therapeutics Inc said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration delayed a decision on the marketing application for its obesity drug, contrave, by three months, sending the company's shares down as much as 20 percent on Wednesday. The FDA indicated that the extension was needed to reach agreement on packaging and other post-marketing obligations related to the evaluation of potential heart risks associated with the drug, Orexigen said. Analysts said they still expected contrave to be approved, as the FDA and Orexigen were in talks over the package insert and other post-marketing requirements. The ongoing discussions suggest that the regulator has become more comfortable with contrave's risk/benefit profile, Wells Fargo analyst Brian Abrahams wrote in a note. The FDA, which rejected the drug in 2011, had asked Orexigen to conduct additional trials to assess potential heart risk of the drug. An interim analysis of an 8,900-patient study showed that overweight and obes

UPDATE 3-Lufthansa warns on profit, shares plunge

Lufthansa cut back its profit targets for the next two years on Wednesday citing competition from Middle East and low-cost rivals, sending shares of Europe's biggest-selling airline plunging. The warnings surprised investors after better-than-expected results in May and come just over a month after new chief executive Carsten Spohr took charge. Spohr will now set out fresh restructuring plans next month, and the German airline will review its spending plans, including the possible cancellation or deferral of plane orders from Airbus or Boeing, Finance Chief Simone Menne told analysts and reporters. Lufthansa cut its forecast for 2014 operating profit to 1 billion euros from a forecast of 1.3-1.5 billion and lowered its 2015 earnings target to 2 billion euros from 2.65 billion. Europe's largest airline by revenue said it was suffering from competition on European flights as well as on routes across the Atlantic where demand from business travellers has traditionally deliver

FTSE ends lower; Rolls-Royce slides on plane order cancellation

Britain's top share index fell on Wednesday, pressured by stocks going ex-dividend and a sharp decline in Rolls-Royce following the cancellation of a major plane order. Rolls-Royce dropped 5.5 percent, the top faller in the blue-chip FTSE 100 index, after Dubai's Emirates scrapped a $16 billion order for Airbus A350 planes that are fitted with engines from Rolls-Royce. British Airways owner IAG also put pressure on the market, sliding 3.1 percent after rival Lufthansa said it would not reach its profit targets for the next two years as competition was suppressing prices on its main European and U.S. routes. Lufthansa shares slumped 14.2 percent in Frankfurt. "Airlines are going to face a tough time as competition in the sector is increasing. Lufthansa's profit warning is a reminder that the situation is not going to improve in the near future and their margins might come under further pressure," David Battersby, investment manager at Redmayne-Bentley, said. &

UPDATE 2-Bouygues Telecom to cut jobs after sale talks fail

France's third biggest mobile operator Bouygues Telecom plans to cut 1,516 jobs or 17 percent of its staff to reduce costs to ensure its survival in a market where prices are down by nearly one-third. Olivier Roussat, who heads the telecoms arm of the family-controlled conglomerate, also acknowledged on Wednesday that the company had held talks with potential buyers - low-cost player Iliad and market leader Orange - but these were no longer ongoing. "Obviously the talks did not succeed otherwise we would not present this plan to remain independent," Roussat said. He declined to give reasons for the failure of the negotiations. "We are cutting costs to survive in a four-player market." Bouygues Telecom has been the centre of deal speculation since April, when it lost a bidding war for number two carrier Vivendi's SFR to cable operator Numericable. Two people close to the situation said the talks between Bouygues and potential buyers had stumbled over pr

UPDATE 1-Retailer boohoo.com continues strong showing in first quarter

British online fashion retailer boohoo.com reported a 24 percent jump in first-quarter revenue on the back of a strong full-year performance, as recovering consumer confidence spurred more people to shop online. Shares in the retailer, which floated on London's Alternative Investment Market in March, rose as much as 7.6 percent to 49.50 pence in early trading on Thursday. The stock lost about 13 percent in value last week when rival retailer ASOS Plc warned on profits. However, Boohoo reassured the market at that time that it was trading in line with expectations. Boohoo reiterated its outlook on Thursday and said it anticipated "revenue growth to accelerate as comparatives become less demanding" through the rest of the year. Boohoo designs, sources, markets and sells own-brand clothing, shoes and accessories through its website to a core market of 16- to 24-year-old consumers in the UK and globally. The company, majority-owned by its founders Kamani family, said UK

FDA lifts partial hold on study testing Geron's drug, shares jump

Geron Corp said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lifted a partial clinical hold on a study testing its blood cancer drug, imetelstat, sending its shares soaring about 34 percent in premarket trading. _0"> Patient enrollments in the trial, sponsored by Mayo Clinic, were halted in March over concerns of liver damage. It came a week after the regulator ordered Geron to cease company-sponsored trials of the drug evaluating its use in thrombocythemia and multiple myeloma, two forms of blood cancer, over similar concerns. Imetelstat, Geron's only drug, was touted as the company's savior after curing 22 percent of myelofibrosis patients in a trial last year. (Reporting by Natalie Grover in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian)

UPDATE 1-Stockmann cuts 2014 outlook after weak May sales

Finnish department stores and fashion chain Stockmann cut its outlook on Thursday for the second time in two months, partly due to weaker-than-expected demand at domestic stores. The Finnish economy has shrunk for two straight years, reflecting weak exports and a downturn elsewhere in Europe, and lately the weakness has spread to private consumption, with retailers feeling the impact. The company's troubles were compounded by weak sales in Russia, where the weaker rouble has made imported products more expensive. Russia is Stockmann's second-biggest market. Stockmann said May sales fell 8.3 percent from a year ago and warned that without a considerable change in the market environment in the latter half of the year, operating profit would end up significantly weaker than in 2013, marking a second outlook cut in two months. On April 29, the company had said it expected 2014 operating profit would not exceed the figure for 2013. "Demand of non-food products has continu

UPDATE 2-Discount retailer B&M's shares rise in London debut

Shares in Britain's B&M European Value Retail, chaired by former Tesco chief executive Terry Leahy, rose nearly 8 percent on their market debut, showing that investors remain enthusiastic about the discount sector of the retail industry. Fast-growing B&M has around 370 stores selling products ranging from bedding to barbecues. Leahy, who left Britain's biggest supermarket chain in 2011, joined B&M in 2012. B&M sold about 40 percent of its shares to institutions at a price of 270p each. They traded at 291 pence at 1205 GMT. That values the firm at 2.9 billion pounds ($4.87 billion), 2 billion pounds above its main discount rival Poundland whose shares were listed in March. It also puts the company within striking distance of the FTSE 100 index, with the smallest constituents valued at 3 billion pounds. Discount retailers, both in general mechandise and food, are taking sales from Britain's "big four" supermarkets, including Tesco, which became

Oil companies prop up FTSE as miners collapse

Energy companies kept Britain's top share index out of the red on Thursday as oil prices were lifted by violence in Iraq. But the FTSE struggled to make any real headway as heavyweight mining stocks dropped sharply after worries about declining Chinese demand sent copper prices to a one-month low. The FTSE 100 ended up 4.24 points, or 0.1 percent, at 6,843.11 points. Energy stocks added 10.24 points to the index as Brent crude oil climbed towards $112 a barrel on concerns for supply from Iraq, a major OPEC exporter. Sunni Muslim rebels from an al Qaeda splinter group overran the Iraqi city of Tikrit on Wednesday and closed in on the biggest oil refinery in the country. "If oil prices go up... it directly flows to revenues and to the bottom line," Oswald Clint, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein, said. BG, which does not have a presence in Iraq, rose 2.5 percent, the top FTSE riser, while BP and Royal Dutch Shell, which are present in the country, added 0.7 percent and

U.S. airline shares fall for 2nd day, hit by rising oil prices

Shares of major U.S. airlines dropped for a second straight day on Thursday as oil prices climbed to a three-month high in the wake of the worst fighting in Iraq since the U.S. troop withdrawal in 2011. _0"> American Airlines Group Inc, the world's largest carrier, tumbled 5.4 percent, while United Continental Holdings Inc 5.7 percent and Delta Air Lines Inc dropped 5 percent. The sector also fell on Wednesday, when German carrier Deutsche Lufthansa AG pared its profit targets for the next two years, citing greater competition . Southwest Airlines Co and JetBlue Airways Corp were both down more than 4 percent. Brent crude oil climbed topped $112 a barrel on worries that escalating violence in Iraq could disrupt oil supplies from the major OPEC exporter. Fuel and labor are the biggest costs for airlines. Kevin Crissey, an airline analyst with Skyline Research, said newer investors were likely not accustomed to the volatile effect of fuel prices on the sector. He also

UPDATE 3-FDA lifts partial hold on study testing Geron's only drug

Geron Corp said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had lifted a partial clinical hold on a study testing its sole drug as a treatment for myelofibrosis, a rare form of blood cancer, sending the company's shares soaring in morning trading. Enrollment in the early-stage trial, sponsored by the Mayo Clinic, was halted in March over concerns about liver toxicity pending followup data from Mayo's investigator on the possible reversibility of the liver damage. Enrollment for the study ceased in January, and about 20 of the 79 patients dropped out. Geron, whose shares rose as much as 33 percent on Thursday, did not then disclose the reason behind the dropouts, but said the remaining enrolled patients would continue to receive the drug, imetelstat. However, in March the FDA also imposed a halt on separate company-sponsored trials evaluating the use of the drug in thrombocythemia and multiple myeloma, citing similar concerns. Geron said on Thursday the company-sponsored trials

UPDATE 4-Lululemon sees tough second quarter, shares tumble

Lululemon Athletica Inc offered little sign on Thursday that it was pulling out of an extended slump, cutting financial forecasts and warning that second-quarter sales at its once-trendy yogawear shops were off to a weak start. Its shares dropped more than 15 percent after it said purchases were dropping even as customer traffic was picking up. During a conference call, Chief Executive Laurent Potdevin blamed the decline in part on a "suboptimal" product assortment. With Thursday's retreat, the shares have dropped more than 40 percent since the company announced an embarrassing recall of overly sheer yoga pants in March 2013. The incident shook up customers and investors in the company just as lower-priced competitors started to crowd into the yogawear market, a business that Lululemon virtually invented. "We have a core product assortment that has not been evolved as quickly as it should have been," Tara Poseley, Lululemon's new chief product officer,

Amaya Gaming near deal to buy poker website PokerStars - Bloomberg

Canada's Amaya Gaming Group, is near a deal to buy the parent of PokerStars, the world's largest poker website, Bloomberg said, citing two people with knowledge of the situation. _0"> Blackstone Group LP's credit business, GSO Capital Partners LP, is backing the bid and arranging more than $1 billion to help finance the deal, according to one of the people, Bloomberg said. ( link.reuters.com/zav99v ) An announcement to buy PokerStars' parent Rational Group Ltd may come on Thursday, one of the people told Bloomberg. Blackstone is preparing to announce its largest-ever credit deal, with more than $1 billion of fund commitments, Bennett Goodman, head of Blackstone's credit business, said at the company's investor day, according to Bloomberg. The agreement, which Blackstone expects will be announced on Thursday, is an acquisition financing for a North American company, Goodman said without naming the business involved, Bloomberg reported. Amaya Gaming

Sycamore Partners mulls offer for apparel retailer Express

Private equity firm Sycamore Partners Said it was interested in acquiring apparel retailer Express Inc and asked the company to allow it to perform due diligence. _0"> The private equity firm on Thursday disclosed a stake of about 9.9 percent in the company, according to a regulatory filing. ( link.reuters.com/huv99v ) Express's shares rose 22 percent to $16.55 in extended trading. The stock closed down nearly 3 percent at $13.55 on Thursday, valuing the company at $1.14 billion. "We would like to perform confirmatory due diligence to determine a definitive valuation of the company," Sycamore said in a letter to the company's board, adding it would take 30 days to complete its due diligence, obtain financing commitments and submit its offer. Express has warned last month that it could post a loss in the current quarter due to high inventory and slow traffic. (Reporting by Shailaja Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D'Souza)