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   Strategies & Market TrendsSpeculating in Takeover Targets

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To: richardred who wrote (2454)9/28/2014 10:22:02 AM
From: richardred
   of 7048
Activist investor buys stake in Yahoo; urges takeover of AOL

Yahoo The Associated Press file photo
Yahoo is being urged to buy AOL Inc. by activist investor Jeffrey Smith of Starboard Value LP.

Waterloo Region Record
By Michael Liedtke
SAN FRANCISCO — Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is getting some unsolicited advice on how to turn around the long-struggling Internet company, just like some of her predecessors who tangled with investors dissatisfied with management's performance.

In a letter on Friday, activist investor Jeffrey Smith urged Yahoo Inc. to buy another fallen Internet star, AOL Inc. and take steps to reduce the future taxes on the company's lucrative stake in China's Alibaba Group. He also chastised Mayer for spending $1.3 billion (all figures US) to acquire an Internet blogging service and more than two dozen other startups during the past two years with little to show in return so far.

To bolster his arguments, Smith says he has built a "significant" stake in Yahoo through Starboard Value LP. The size of the stake wasn't quantified in Friday's letter and hasn't yet been divulged in regulatory filings.

The idea of Yahoo and AOL getting together isn't a new one. Various analysts and other Internet observers have argued a marriage between the two companies would allow them to cut costs, attract more web surfers and, most importantly, strengthen their online advertising arsenal to improve their chances of competing against Internet stalwarts Google Inc. and Facebook Inc.

"It makes a lot of sense," said BGC Financial Partners Colin Gillis.

Yahoo and AOL didn't respond to requests for comment Friday.

The prospect of a change in Yahoo's recent direction seemed to excite investors. Yahoo's stock closed up $1.71, or 4.4 per cent, to $40.66 in trading Friday. AOL's stock added $1.58, or 3.7 per cent, to $44.55 as investors reacted to a potential buyout bid.

Smith previously agitated for change at AOL in 2012 after he acquired a 5.3 per cent stake in that company and mounted an unsuccessful campaign to win three board seats. He didn't express any interest in trying to replace anyone on Yahoo's nine-member board, which includes Mayer.

This is the third time in the past six years that an activist investor has targeted Yahoo for a shakeup. Billionaire Carl Icahn seized three spots on Yahoo's board in 2008 after attacking the company for spurning a $47.5-billion takeover offer from Microsoft Corp. and hedge-fund manager Daniel Loeb also wound up with three board seats in 2012 after orchestrating the ouster of one of Yahoo's previous CEO, Scott Thompson.

Since becoming Yahoo's CEO in July 2012, Mayer has been buying startups and trendy services such as Tumblr in an effort to appeal to a younger demographic and expand Yahoo's audience on smartphones and tablets as more people rely on those mobile devices to connect with digital services.

Given AOL is still closely associated to the days when people relied on dial-up modems to surf the web, Mayer might view a buyout to be "too backward-looking for Yahoo," Gillis said.

Yahoo could easily afford to take over AOL, whose market value is hovering around $3.5 billion. After paying taxes, Yahoo is expected to pocket about $6 billion from selling 140 million of its shares in Alibaba, a rapidly growing e-commerce company that went public last week.

Yahoo still holds a 15 per cent stake in Alibaba worth about $34 billion, an asset that Smith contends has been mismanaged. He believes that Yahoo could boost its stock price by about $16 per share by coming up with a strategy that would minimize the company's taxes when it sells the rest of its holdings in Alibaba Group and another investment in Yahoo Japan.

One way this might be done would be to engineer a tax-free spinoff of Yahoo's Asian investments, though Smith didn't explicitly float that idea in his letter. He said Starboard has discussed several "alternative structures" for Yahoo's Asian investments with tax specialists.

As it is, Yahoo's stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan are valued at a combined $42 billion. Before the letter was released, Yahoo's total market value stood at $39 billion — an assessment indicating that investors put little or no value on the company's ongoing U.S. business while discounting for the taxes that currently would have to be paid in eventual sales of the Alibaba and Yahoo Japan stakes.

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To: richardred who wrote (3295)9/28/2014 10:27:33 AM
From: richardred
   of 7048
Mergers rise as local banks seek growth
Alexander Coolidge, 10 p.m. EDT September 27, 2014

(Photo: Enquirer file )

Story HighlightsBank mergers are speeding up to the fastest pace in nearly a decade.Industry watchers predict another 1,000 small banks will disappear in the next few years.Greater Cincinnati’s small banks collectively hold $7.7 billion worth of local consumer and business loans on their books.


Bank mergers are speeding up to the fastest pace in nearly a decade as more small lenders get gobbled up by larger ones – including three banks based in Greater Cincinnati.

In 2014, the cause is less often weak banks failing, but smaller banks struggling to grow. A sluggish economy weakens demand for lending and low interest rates make remaining lending less lucrative, which in turn slows revenues for banks. As a result, more banks look to acquire smaller rivals to move the needle.

“There’s a lot of consolidation going on – and it’s a bad thing,” said Steve Wilson, chief executive of LCNB National Bank in Lebanon. Wilson, a former chairman of the the American Banking Association, added that tough regulations under the federal Dodd-Frank law have increased compliance expenses that further encourage banks to bulk up.

Wilson said there are industry predictions that another 1,000 small banks will disappear in a few years.

Deal-making is up 16 percent in the first half of 2014, the fastest increase since 2004. A survey of community banks by regulators this month showed 21 percent expected an overture to merge from a rival within the next year, while another 20 percent expected to make a deal offer.

Local banks such as First Financial Bancorp and LCNB have grown in 2014 through acquisition, but local institutions are being snapped up, too.

The latest deals: Early this month, Crestview Hills-based Bank of Kentucky agreed to sell out to North Carolina’s BB&T in a $363 million deal. In August, Wilmington-based National Bank and Trust Co. agreed to be acquired by Marietta-based Peoples Bank in a $109 million deal.

Greater Cincinnati is a tempting target. It has an usual concentration of more than 40 banks serving the region’s nearly $120 billion economy – the fourth-fastest-growing major city in the Midwest.

Clifton’s Columbia Savings Bank was the first local lender to disappear in 2014. Regulators shut it down in May and sold it to Evansville-based United Fidelity Bank. Columbia Savings was the 500th bank failure nationwide since 2007 when the real estate bubble burst, setting off a wave of regulator-brokered distressed bank sales. Bank failures peaked in 2010, accounting for 80 percent of mergers.

Since then, industry officials say, higher costs and thinner profits have pushed banks to combine – not out of desperation, but for profit and growth. Getting bigger allows financial institutions to spread added costs like compliance professionals.

“The smaller the bank the harder it is to absorb those extra fixed costs,” said Claude Davis, chief executive of Downtown’s First Financial Bancorp.

Last month, First Financial closed on the acquisition of three separate acquisitions of small banks that give it five new branches and a beachhead in the Columbus market. Davis said Columbus’ thriving economy made it an attractive market to enter and First Financial will build new branches as it grows there.

“Our strategy is primarily to grow organically, but when we find an opportunity ... we’ll make an acquisition,” Davis said.

Acquisitions have fueled First Financial’s growth since the 2008 financial crisis. A large community bank mostly in Greater Cincinnati, First Financial created a network of more than 100 branches from Columbus to Indianapolis through a series of deals.

The bank acquired dozens of local and Indiana branches in 2009 when West Chester’s Peoples Community Bank and two subsidiaries run by Columbus, Indiana’s Irwin Financial Corp. failed. In 2011, First Financial also acquired more than a dozen Dayton branches from Liberty Savings Bank and more than 20 Indianapolis-area branches from Flagstar Bank.

It has opened only 17 branches that it built in the last six years.

Crestview Hills-based Bank of Kentucky courted several unidentified local banks about potential mergers but was rebuffed. Chief executive Bob Zapp said slow growth and the lender’s failure to find a local dance partner led to it shopping itself around for a takeover.

Local banks safer, yet faceslow growth and high costs

Greater Cincinnati has long enjoyed an unusually large number of community banks that have helped power its economy. Excluding First Financial that has extensive out-of-market business, the region’s remaining small banks collectively hold $7.7 billion worth of local consumer and business loans on their books.

All of them exceed regulators’ capital requirements, most have low levels of problem assets and don’t appear in any danger of failing. Still, low interest rates set by the Federal Reserve to prop up the economy make lending less lucrative. On top of this, tougher bank regulations from the Dodd-Frank financial reform have added big costs for small banks.

Bankers says Dodd-Frank is so complex, small banks have been forced to add extra personnel to keep on top of all the new rules. It can be a significant burden for a small bank adding even one compliance pro – making a salary of $62,000 to $95,000.

For example, less than half of Greater Cincinnati’s 42 community banks made a profit of more than $1 million in 2013. Eight lost money. The region’s smallest lender, New Foundation Savings Bank in Colerain Township, made a profit of $19,000 and employs 11.

Sluggish growth prospects – and a generous takeover offer – were cited for reasons to sell by National Bank and Trust. Revenue slid by 7.3 percent to $30.3 million in 2013 and kept declining this year before it agreed to be acquired in August.

Local banks‘ strong capital positions suggest some are bulking up to make buys before they are bought.

Spring Valley Bank in Wyoming is a modest one-branch bank with 10 employees controlling $67.7 million in assets that generated $3.7 million in revenue last year. But the bank’s 39.1 core ratio makes it the highest-capitalized bank in the region. “We believe it’s important to maintain high capital levels – it allows us to make more loans,” said David Wittkamp, Spring Valley’s president.

Wittkamp says the bank would like to do more lending, which would lower its capital levels, but said acquisitions are not part of its plans. “It’s not part of our strategy,” Wittkamp said, admitting Spring Valley’s capital could support an operation four times its current scope.

Spring Valley is hardly alone. Regulators require banks to maintain a 5 percent core capital ratio to be considered “well-capitalized” – more than 30 local institutions have twice that level and eight have three times the required amount for regulators‘ top designation.

Cheviot Savings Bank’s core capital ratio was 16 percent just before it doubled in size when it took over Franklin Savings and Loan in 2011.

“Everybody tries to put their capital to use,” said Cheviot Savings’ chief executive Tom Linneman. Since the deal, his bank’s capital has crept back from less than 10 percent to 13.7 percent.

Linneman, who spent nearly five years wooing Franklin, noted banks need more than capital to buy, they need rivals willing to be bought out. “Unless they’re really on the market, it takes time,” he said. ¦

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To: richardred who wrote (3780)9/28/2014 10:34:53 AM
From: richardred
   of 7048
KKR in the drivers seat with Treasury Wine bid
Date September 29, 2014 - 2:30AM

Simon Evans and Sarah Thompson

Private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts is in the prime position to win a recommendation from the board of Treasury Wine Estates after lodging a bid significantly higher than rival firm TPG Capital.

The Treasury board is understood to have held KKR to a price of around $5.20, which values Australia's largest wine company at $3.4 billion. KKR and junior partner Rhone Capital offered that amount on August 4, up from the original solo KKR proposal of $4.70 which became public on May 20.

The board of Treasury and its advisers were still locked in high-level meetings on Sunday night as they approached a final decision, which may be announced to the Australian Securities Exchange as early as Monday.

Treasury chairman Paul Rayner has been under intense pressure after a series of missteps at the world's largest stand-alone wine company over the past 15 months, with a change of ownership now highly likely for the owner of Penfolds, Rosemount, Wolf Blass, Wynns and Lindeman's.

KKR and New York-based Rhone lodged a formal takeover bid for Treasury about 5pm on Friday, while TPG also did likewise in time to meet a secret deadline put in place by the Treasury board and its advisers from Goldman Sachs.

The merits of each offer were closely examined by the Treasury camp over the weekend, with both bids ­understood to have a lower-than-usual debt component because of the unpredictable nature of the agricultural industry in which Treasury operates.

A spokesman for Treasury declined to comment on Sunday.

Both private equity firms lodged indicative proposals in August valuing Treasury at $3.4 billion and made separate official bids after an exhaustive and intense due diligence period over the past few weeks, which included visits to offshore operations and wineries around Australia.

Both bids were pitched under a scheme of arrangement proposal.

The decline in the Australian dollar has played into the hands of the US-based private equity bidders, with each 1¢ drop delivering a $2.3 million injection to the company's profits.

The weaker Australian dollar delivered more financial firepower for the final bids because it makes Australian assets cheaper, with the maker of Penfolds and Wolf Blass increasingly likely to end up with an offshore owner.

While both KKR and its rival TPG are building in long-term projections for where the Australian currency is likely to be against the US dollar for the next few years, most experts believe it will continue to fall, meaning the timing of the US predators is good as they look to rebuild profits should a bid be accepted by the Treasury board.

Stephen Harvey, chairman of Deloitte's Australian Wine Industry Group, said the local wine industry was in for a much better era when it comes to currency, with local exports to become much more competitive on the shelves of retailers in the US and Britain.

"We're in a much stronger position," he said.

Treasury itself outlined some foreign exchange sensitivities on August 21 when it delivered its full-year results.

It also gave an outline of its foreign exchange risk management approach around hedging for the next two years for both the US dollar and British pound, but in practical terms analysts believe the $2.3 million impact is still around the mark when it comes to the US currency shifts.

Stockbroking house Citi says the upside for the entire Australian wine sector is substantial from a sustained decline in the Australian currency, and for Treasury it will translate into better profit margins.

KKR and junior partner Rhone Capital lifted an indicative offer for Treasury on August 4 to $5.20 per share, while on August 11 TPG Capital made a proposal also pitched at $5.20 per share. They both valued Treasury at $3.4 billion, with the rival proposals made via a scheme of arrangement where Treasury shareholders will vote at a meeting on a preferred bid.

Read more:

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To: richardred who wrote (3794)9/28/2014 10:50:51 AM
From: richardred
   of 7048
Bank of the Sierra eyes more acquisitions

Posted: Friday, September 26, 2014 9:23 am


When the acquisition of Santa Clara Valley Bank concludes in December, Porterville-based Bank of the Sierra will not stop growing.

Bank CEO Jim Holly and bank COO Kevin McPhaill laid out the bank’s plans to seek more acquisitions and to nearly double in size over the next few years.

In short, the bank is in a growth mode.

“Our merger strategy is to look for opportunities and those that fit well, we’ll take advantage of those,” said Holly.

In July, Bank of the Sierra announced it was acquiring the small Santa Clara Valley Bank headquartered in Santa Paula. The three-branch bank has assets of just $130 million. Bank of the Sierra’s total assets are $1.56 billion and the two bank leaders said the goal is to take that to more than $2 billion.

To accomplish that, the bank will need to grow.

“We’ve always been content to grow by branches,” Holly explained of the past. Only twice has the bank acquired other banks, the last more than a decade ago. The new strategy is to take advantage of opportunities by purchasing smaller banks.

“We’re being opportunistic,” said McPhaill of a trend of smaller banks selling out.

Those opportunities, explained Holly, stem from the difficulty smaller banks are having keeping up with technology and regulatory burdens, as well as stock growth.

Holly said Bank of the Sierra has 12 people working just on new regulations, many enacted since the bank problems of the mid-2000s. Ten years ago, the bank only had two or three people working on keeping up with regulatory rules. Also, the bank they have acquired had a opening stock price of $10. Bank of the Sierra purchased that stock for $6 a share.

“Smaller banks are hugely problematic,” said Holly, pointing out there has been a wave of consolidation and most of the acquisitions have been made by banks similar in size to the Bank of the Sierra. He showed a chart where in 1990 there were 16,000 bank charters in the U.S. That has shrunk to 6,000 today and McPhaill said they expect to see that number fall to 4,000 over next five years. He also pointed out that since 2008, very few new banks have been chartered. Suncrest Bank in Visalia and Porterville is one of just a few new banks.

Holly said banks have two choices. “Get a lot bigger or sell.”

Acquisition outlined

In the strategic plan approved by the bank’s board of directors in January, growth by acquiring other banks was set as a goal, said McPhaill.

Holly, with more than 35 years in banking — 36 years as head of Bank of the Sierra — then began putting out feelers as to which banks might be willing to sell.

“We talked to a lot of people. That’s how it starts,” said McPhaill.

“I called them (Santa Clara) to see if they were interested,” Holly said of the Santa Paula bank. The first meeting was in March. “These guys were ready,” he added.

Once they found a willing seller, the local bank began its due diligence process, calling in auditors and surveying the market the bank they were acquiring serves.

Santa Clara Valley, which is east of Ventura along Highway 126, is similar to the San Joaquin Valley, especially Porterville. The city of Santa Paula calls itself the “Citrus Capital of the World.”

Holly said the bank to be bought also fit well into his bank’s business model.

Both Holly and McPhaill said the purchase has gone very smoothly and they expect the acquisition to be completed by Dec. 5.

By acquiring the new bank, the number of people employed by Bank of the Sierra should grow to more than 430. Holly said 30 employees are being retained with Santa Clara Valley Bank, and the purchase may require a few more people at the bank’s headquarters on Main Street in Porterville.

Future plans

The two bank leaders said while this purchase moves forward, they are already looking for more opportunities and mentioned several prospects along the Central Coast. McPhaill said the goal would be to reach a deal on another purchase early next year and complete that acquisition by the end of 2015.

McPhaill said the trend of midsized banks acquiring smaller banks began about a year ago.

Holly said the current acquisition should serve as a template for future acquisitions.

What the bank will look for is smaller banks in good locations with a potential for growth.

About the Banks

Porterville-headquartered Sierra Bancorp is the holding company of Bank of the Sierra. It was founded in 1978 by a group of local investors and has been one of the most successful independent banks on the West Coast.

Santa Clara Valley Bank began 15 years ago and serves the communities of Ventura, Oxnard and Santa Clarita with branches in Santa Paula, Fillmore and Valencia.

Sierra reported it had acquired the southern California bank for $15.3 million, which consists of $12.3 million in common shares and $3 million in cash to preferred shareholders. Included in the $12.3 million consideration, the local bank will pay $700,000 to cash out existing in-the-money warrants.

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To: richardred who wrote (3731)9/28/2014 11:15:28 AM
From: richardred
   of 7048
Your Inversion Is Germany's Takeover

3 Sept 23, 2014 10:53 AM EDT
By Leonid Bershidsky

The U.S. Treasury Department's action against tax inversions won't keep all U.S. companies from lowering their tax bills through foreign mergers. Many companies that have been looking for ways to reincorporate abroad will instead become more amenable to takeovers by foreign corporations, whose appetite for U.S. business is growing.

German companies especially have been on a buying spree in the U.S. Billion-dollar deals involving a German acquirer and a U.S. target announced so far this year include:

  • Merck KGaA's planned takeover of life-science equipment maker Sigma-Aldrich Corp. for $16.4 billion in cash
  • Bayer AG's offer of $14.2 billion for Merck & Co. Inc.'s consumer care business
  • ZF Friedrichshafen AG's purchase of car part maker TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. for $12.8 billion
  • Siemens AG's acquisition of oilfield equipment maker Dresser-Rand Group Inc. for $7.5 billion
  • SAP AG's purchase of expenses software developer Concur Technologies Inc. for $7.2 billion; Infineon Technologies AG's takeover of power circuitry maker International Rectifier Corp. for $2.3 billion
  • Continental AG's acquisition of Veyance Technologies Inc., which makes auto components, for $1.9 billion
German companies have already spent more in the U.S. in 2014 than in any full year in the past two decades. Add other Europeans -- Sweden's Electrolux, which is picking up GE's appliances business; Switzerland's Roche, investing in lung medicine start-up InterMune; U.K. tobacco companies poaching U.S. cigarette brands -- and you have a major boom in European acquisitions. So far this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, 709 such deals worth a total of $140 billion have been proposed, compared with 835 deals for $183 billion in which U.S. companies are the buyers of European businesses. Who says Europe's economy is feeble compared to the U.S.?

The Europeans have their reasons to be interested in U.S. companies. As their home markets stagnate, they have to rely on exports and internationalization in order to grow. The euro has been strong recently, making U.S. acquisitions more attractive, but the European Central Bank's policies are driving the currency down, and companies want to move while the prices are relatively low. German exporters have the cash on hand and the available credit to buy coveted technologies.

There are two sides to every deal, of course, and U.S. company shareholders have their reasons for selling. One of them -- though perhaps not the biggest -- is the U.S. tax system. At least one of the companies recently acquired by Germans, Sigma-Aldrich, was recently mentioned as an inversion candidate. Now, its tax optimization will be Merck's headache. Germany has a high effective corporate tax rate -- just under 30 percent -- but the EU, borderless for business purposes, has plenty of friendlier jurisdictions.

The Treasury Department's fact sheet on its new inversion rules says the U.S. government has nothing against "genuine cross-border mergers": they "make the U.S. economy stronger by enabling U.S. companies to invest overseas and encouraging foreign investment to flow into the United States." Indeed, the European cash goes to the acquired companies' U.S. shareholders, who pay tax on the transaction. The end result of "genuine" deals, however, is the same for purely tax-motivated ones: Companies pay U.S. taxes only on their American business. The U.S. government cannot get its hands on their overseas cash.

The Treasury has closed some inversion-related loopholes. It will now be more difficult for U.S. companies to lend overseas cash to new overseas parents or to sell them their cash-accumulating subsidiaries. It will also be hard to make foreign companies look bigger and U.S. ones smaller to pass off an inversion deal as a genuine foreign takeover. None of the new strictures, however, will apply to the European purchases.

U.S. policy makers need to be consistent. If their goal is for U.S. companies to stay in American hands so they can be taxed on their foreign as well as U.S. operations, they need to make all cross-border acquisitions difficult -- an ugly measure that would destroy the U.S.'s reputation as an open economy. If, however, their goal is to keep U.S. firms nimble, competitive and acquisitive, they should relax tax rules and perhaps even let firms pay taxes only to the countries where their business is conducted.

To contact the writer of this article: Leonid Bershidsky at

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Mary Duenwald at

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To: richardred who wrote (3755)9/28/2014 11:52:46 AM
From: richardred
   of 7048
MCF-Contango Oil & Gas is not mentioned in the story. However, I think its fair to say they could put MCF on their acquisition list. RE-Little kicker. MCF just bought Crimson energy which is right next to some ECA Eagle Ford properties

Encana Cash Puts Halcon to Penn Virgina in Play: Real M&A
By Rebecca Penty and Brooke Sutherland September 24, 2014

Mike McAllister, president of Encana Corp.'s Canada division. Photographer: Stuart Davis/BloombergB

Encana Corp. (ECA), the Canadian energy company that’s shifting production toward more oil, will soon have record cash to spend on crude-rich targets from Halcon Resources Corp. ( HK:US) to Penn Virginia Corp.

Canada’s second-largest natural gas producer is planning this month to sell its controlling stake in PrairieSky Royalty Ltd. The move, along with other asset disposals, will give Encana a $6.6 billion stockpile, according to Deutsche Bank AG. With an improved balance sheet, Encana has the flexibility to be “opportunistic” about purchases as the company shifts output to higher-price oil and liquids from gas, Chief Financial Officer Sherri Brillon said Sept. 9.

Encana could target $1.8 billion Halcon Resources Corp. to grow in the Eagle Ford and Tuscaloosa Marine shale regions or RSP Permian Inc. to expand into the Permian basin, according to Morningstar Inc. MLV & Co. said it may look at Penn Virginia Corp., ( PVA:US) the $868 million Eagle Ford producer that billionaire George Soros’s investment firm encouraged to explore a sale. Should Encana enter the Permian, Athlon Energy Inc. ( ATHL:US) might be a good fit for the $16 billion company, said Sentry Investments Inc.

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“It makes a lot of sense to look at acquisitions,” Lanny Pendill, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co. in St. Louis, said in a phone interview. “The whole name of the game for Encana right now is all about accelerating the transition of the portfolio from predominantly natural gas to a better balance.”

Jay Averill, a spokesman for Encana, declined to comment and cited the company’s policy of not discussing speculation about acquisitions and divestitures.

Production Shift Chief Executive Officer Doug Suttles, at Encana’s helm since June 2013, has been selling gas-producing assets and buying oil- and liquids-rich properties. He’s seeking to rebalance the company’s production after a glut of supply lowered North American gas prices. Long Canada’s largest gas producer, Encana now ranks behind Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.

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Encana will be in the uncommon position for an energy producer of having net cash after the PrairieSky stake sale and the closing of two other transactions expected by the end of the month, Stephen Richardson, an analyst at Deutsche Bank AG in New York, wrote in a Sept. 12 note. It could use that cash to accelerate its transition with purchases in the Eagle Ford shale and Denver-Jules and Permian basins, he wrote.

Shale Oil The company is most likely to make purchases in U.S. shale formations because its Canada positions are already large and can’t quickly provide as much oil production, said Pendill of Edward Jones. Closely held companies may be better priced for Encana than their listed peers, he said.

“You can’t get in just on the ground anymore,” Chad Mabry, an exploration and production analyst at MLV, said in a phone interview. “You have to make a corporate acquisition to get in with scale.”

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Suttles, on a May conference call, said Encana may be comfortable focusing on as many as eight regions, up from its current six.

Penn Virginia would be an attractive Eagle Ford target for Encana, and Halcon Resources, a Houston-based producer with operations in the Eagle Ford, Tuscaloosa Marine shale and Bakken and Three Forks formations, is also appealing, MLV’s Mabry said. Halcon executives have experience with dealmaking, having sold Petrohawk Energy Corp. to BP Plc in 2011, and may be looking to repeat that with Halcon, he said.

Cheap Target Buyers can get Penn Virginia’s more than 100,000 net acres in the region for a bargain as the Radnor, Pennsylvania-based company is cheaper than most of its peers.

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Encana could look to build a presence in the Permian basin in West Texas, where RSP Permian Inc. ( RSPP:US) presents one option for a takeout, said David Meats, a Chicago-based analyst at Morningstar Inc. Dallas-based RSP Permian has a market value of $1.9 billion.

Asset grabs may be hard to come by, so if Encana wants to enter the Permian, it may have to “pay a 30 percent premium and pick up one of the smaller operators,” Meats said. RSP Permian is “definitely a good fit. It’s got very high-quality assets,” though Encana needs to avoid overpaying for an asset or buying anything that’s less than ideal, he said.

Athlon Energy Athlon Energy Inc. also might be a logical target, said Mason Granger, a portfolio manager at Sentry Investments Inc. in Toronto who focuses on energy investments. Athlon, based in Fort Worth, Texas, has a market value of $4.5 billion.

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“Athlon’s all over the place in the Permian,” he said.

Representatives for Penn Virginia, Halcon and Athlon didn’t return phone or e-mail messages seeking comment. A representative for RSP Permian declined to comment.

Encana may be more likely to make “bolt-on” purchases that match recent acquisitions, given it needs to grow production from Eagle Ford properties it acquired for $3.1 billion in June, John Herrlin, an analyst at Societe Generale SA in New York, said in an e-mail. And the deals market in the U.S. remains competitive, he said.

“It remains a property rather than public-company market,” Herrlin said. “Given the recent Eagle Ford buy, it’s likely way too early for them to step up and buy more.”

Encana’s stock isn’t yet reflecting any potential gain from a transaction, according to Deutsche Bank’s Richardson.

“The right asset, at the right price could provide interesting upside and shift the market’s perception,” of Encana, he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Rebecca Penty in Calgary at; Brooke Sutherland in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Beth Williams at; Susan Warren at Whitney Kisling

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To: richardred who wrote (3798)9/29/2014 8:12:17 AM
From: richardred
   of 7048
Encana chooses already.

Encana to buy Athlon Energy in US$7.1-billion deal, speed up shift to liquids
By The Canadian Press September 29, 2014 5:53 AM

Doug Suttles, CEO of Encana Corp., speaks to reporters in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, June 11, 2013. Calgary-based Encana Corp. has agreed to buy Texas-based Athlon Energy in a friendly takeover. Encana will pay nearly US$6 billion in cash and assume about US$1.15 billion of Athlon's debt, making the deal worth about US$7.1 billion. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY - Encana Corp. has agreed to buy Athlon Energy in a US$7.1 billion friendly takeover deal that will give the Canadian gas producer access to a major Texas oil play and speed up its shift towards more liquids production.

"This transformative acquisition further accelerates our strategy and provides us with a prime position in what is widely acknowledged as one of North America's top oil plays," Doug Suttles, Encana president and CEO, said in a statement Monday.

"We're delivering on the portfolio promises we made for 2017, today," Suttles said.

Encana has scheduled a conference call with media and analysts to discuss the deal, which has the support of Athlon's board of directors.

The Calgary-based company, which has been shifting its production to oil and gas liquids amid persistently low prices for natural gas, will pay nearly US$6 billion in cash and assume about US$1.15 billion of Athlon's debt.

Athlon's shareholders are being offered US$58.50 per share cash, for a total of US$5.93 billion.

Athlon shares closed Friday at US$46.73 on the New York Stock Exchange. Encana's closed at C$23.59 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

"With Encana's exceptional resources and the collective expertise of both teams, the next phase will accelerate development and ultimately realize the full potential of the deep inventory of premier projects," Bob Reeves, Athlon's chairman, president and chief executive, said in a joint statement.

Encana says the Athlon transaction will add the equivalent of about 30,000 barrels of oil per day of production focused in the Midland Basin, part of the Permian formation.

The company now expects to generate 75 per cent of its operating cash flow from liquids production by next year, two years sooner than its its initial target of 2017.

Encana says there's potential to recover the equivalent of about three billion barrels over time. The company intends to invest at least US$1 billion in the play and ramp up production to at least seven horizontal rigs by the end of 2015.

"Our portfolio now aligns with our vision of being a leading North American resource play company. Our growth areas now include the top two resource plays in Canada, the Montney and Duvernay, and the top two resource plays in the United States, the Eagle Ford and the Permian," Suttles said.

Last week, Encana sold its remaining stake in PrairieSky Royalty Ltd. for about $2.6 billion to a syndicate of underwriters.

PrairieSky has major holdings in Western Canada that were spun off from Encana through an initial public offering in May.

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From: richardred9/29/2014 8:23:31 AM
   of 7048
Merger Monday!

Deals of the day- Mergers and acquisitions
Sept 29 Mon Sep 29, 2014 3:56pm IST

** U.S. medical device maker Medtronic Inc is likely to try to renegotiate the structure and terms of its $42.9 billion deal to buy Ireland's Covidien Plc in response to new U.S. tax rules, people familiar with the situation said on Friday.

** Lockheed Martin Corp said on Friday that it would buy a European-built military communications satellite for South Korea as part of a $7 billion deal to supply Seoul with 40 F-35 fighter jets, in what industry observers call among the most unusual "offset" agreements ever to accompany a major arms sale.

** German utility RWE AG said on Sunday that it still lacked a "comfort letter" from Britain's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DETCC), a prerequisite for closing the sale of its oil and gas unit RWE Dea AG.

** Australia's Treasury Wine Estates Ltd, one of the world's biggest wine companies, rejected takeover offers from private equity firms, saying bids that valued it at $3 billion were insufficient and required it take on too much debt.

** Japan's SoftBank Corp is in talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation SKG, the Hollywood studio behind the "Shrek" and "Madagascar" movies, a person with knowledge of the situation said. The entertainment trade publication said SoftBank had offered $32 per share for DreamWorks, a substantial premium to the stock's Friday closing price of $22.36.

** Lenovo Group Ltd will close its acquisition of International Business Machines Corp's (IBM) x86 server division on Oct. 1 for $2.1 billion, giving the Chinese tech firm the firepower to win business clients from U.S. rivals.

** Swiss-based chemicals group Ineos has acquired a stake in a shale oil and gas license in Scotland and plans to pay a share of revenue from any production to landowners and communities, Britain's energy ministry said in a statement.

** China's Fosun International Ltd has upped its bid for Portugal's Espirito Santo Saude (ESS) to 4.82 euros a share or 460.5 million euros ($584 million) in total, stepping up the battle over the hospital business of the indebted Espirito Santo family.

** Saudi Arabia's National Industrialization Co (Tasnee) plans to pay 1.8 billion riyals ($480 million) to raise its majority stake in its Cristal subsidiary by a further 13 percent, the company said.

** Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, in its first big investment since raising $25 billion in a record-breaking New York initial public offering, has bought 15 percent of Chinese hospitality technology provider Beijing Shiji Information Technology Co Ltd for 2.81 billion yuan ($458.6 million).

** Japanese drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd has agreed to acquire U.S. biopharmaceutical company Ambit Biosciences Corp in a deal valued up to $410 million as it looks to build its presence in oncology, the companies said.

** Belgian visual technology company Barco NV is on the verge of selling its aerospace and defense business to a U.S. industrial firm, local business daily De Tijd said.

** Indian generic drugmaker Strides Arcolab Ltd said it had agreed to merge with smaller peer Shasun Pharmaceuticals Ltd in an all-stock deal.

** Philippines' Premium Leisure Corp, the license holder for the $1.3-billion City of Dreams Manila integrated casino, has raised 6.19 billion pesos ($137.7 million) as it priced shares at a steep discount.

** Australia and New Zealand Banking Group said it had agreed to sell its 17.5 percent stake in Vietnam's Saigon Securities Incorporation (SSI) as the lender focuses on improving returns in Asia.

** British entrepreneur Hugh Osmond has acquired restaurant chain Strada from Tragus Group through his investment vehicle Sun Capital in a 37 million pound ($60 million) deal.

** Indonesia's biggest telecom company by subscribers, PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom), through its unit Telekomunikasi Indonesia International Australia Pty Ltd, acquired a 75 percent stake worth 11 million Australian dollars ($9.61 million) in a Sydney-based business process outsourcing firm.

** The board of Qatar's Doha Bank has authorized the purchase of the Indian assets of HSBC Bank Oman, and has called a shareholder meeting in November to approve the deal, it said in a statement.

** Venezuela announced on Friday the "temporary" takeover of two plants belonging to U.S. cleaning products maker Clorox Co , which has left the country because of difficult economic conditions.

** Miners, including Mineral Resources Ltd and Mount Gibson Iron Ltd, might be interested in the Australian assets of Cliffs Natural Resources Inc, Bloomberg said in a report on Friday. The assets could fetch as much as AUD$1 billion, Bloomberg reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

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To: richardred who wrote (3092)9/29/2014 9:09:04 AM
From: richardred
   of 7048
Coty chief executive leaves company
September 29, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — Beauty products maker Coty says its CEO has left the company for personal reasons and its chairman will take over on an interim basis.

Michele Scannavini has left the CEO post and resigned the board of directors. Chairman Bart Becht will take over while the company seeks a permanent successor.

Scannavini was promoted to CEO in 2012 from his previous role of as president of Coty Prestige shortly after Coty walked away from its $10.7 billion takeover bid for Avon in 2012.

The New York company, known for its celebrity fragrances and OPI nail polish, went public in 2013.

In its most recent quarter the company earned 3 cents per share adjusted for one-time costs, but both profit and revenue fell short of analyst expectations. Its shares finished at $17.12 last Friday. Its shares are up 12 percent so far this year through Friday.

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To: richardred who wrote (3799)9/29/2014 9:54:55 AM
From: richardred
   of 7048
Added some MCF today. IMO oil is the biggest selective bargain sector for those who can wait for a recovery.

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