America Movil completes share offer for Royal KPN

Mexican telecommunications group America Movil SAB de CV (NYSE:AMX) announced the completion of its EUR8.00 (USD10.06) per share partial offer for Royal KPN NV (AMS:KPN) saying it had bought the targeted 27.7% stake in the Dutch telecommunications and ICT services provider.

On 27 June when the EUR2.6bn partial offer expired, AMX said that 562.5m KPN shares, or 39.66%, had been tendered to its bid since its launch on 30 May.

As by the deadline, the Mexican group had already piled up a 24.91% KPN interest through deals outside the offer, AMX said it would accept only a 2.82% stake tendered under the offer, representing around 7.11% of the tendered stock.

The partial offer succeeded despite the opposition by KPN management and supervisory boards which deemed it opportunistic and undervaluing the company’s potential.

In its current statement, AMX said that via this investment it had reached its goal to secure a meaningful minority stake in KPN which has a good position in significant European markets.

The Mexican group will settle on 3 July the payments for the KPN stock tender under the bid, it said.

AMX, which held 4.8% in KPN before launching the partial offer, sees this deal as an opportunity to expand outside the Americas as it sees geographic diversification to be key to its growth. This is its largest investment in Europe so far, the buyer has said, adding it would use own cash resources to finance it.

KPN had 44.5m subscribers at the end of 2011.

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Troubled Spanish lender Bankia sells Mexican car financing arm

Spanish lender Bankia SA said on Thursday it had entered into a EUR9.7m (USD12.1m) deal to sell its car financing unit Finanmadrid Mexico to Mexican bank CI Banco.

Bankia is disposing of the Mexican business created in February 2005 as part of a strategy to get rid of non-core operations, it said.

The transaction needs to win the relevant regulatory approval before it can close, the vendor said, adding it expected to receive the nod in the next few weeks.

Finanmadrid Mexico, focused on loans for car purchases provided through concessionaire agencies, generated revenues of EUR7.3m last year, the highest result since it started operations driven by the strong car sector in the country.

CI Banco runs 137 branches across Mexico’s most important cities and tourism centres. The lender, established in 1984 and headed by Jorge Rangel de Alba Brunel, has assets of over EUR1bn.

Bankia, which asked for state help in May, has been granted a temporary clearance by the European Commission (EC) on Wednesday for its state bailout.

According to the EC, the aid would consist of a conversion of state-owned preference shares worth EUR4.465bn into equity and a liquidity guarantee of EUR19bn to the BFA group which comprises Bankia.

In a statement, EC competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said that the Spanish bank’s parent BFA will become fully state owned, a move that would simplify decision making regarding its restructuring.

German Linde to expand in the US with possible deal to acquire Lincare

German gases group Linde AG (ETR:LIN) is racing to buy US Lincare Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:LNCR), a provider of oxygen and other respiratory therapy services, for some USD3.4bn (EUR2.7bn), in a move that would substantially expand its pharmaceutical and medical gases business, according to informed sources cited by the the Financial Times Alphaville blog.

Linde is offering at least USD40.00 a share for Lincare and leads the bidding race which also includes French Air Liquide (EPA:AI) and an unnamed private equity firm, the people said.

A deal would see the German group expand its presence in the US after widening its reach across the sector in Belgium, Germany, France, Portugal and Spain with the acquisition earlier this year of Air Products and Chemicals Inc’s (NYSE:APD) homecare business in Europe. The Air Products deal gave Linde the second position in the homecare sector after Air Liquide.

A potential acquisition of Lincare would boost Linde’s healthcare operations which provides higher margins than its main industrial gases business while improving its position in the high-growth sector.

With a capitalisation of slightly over USD20bn, Linde is seen capable of ensuring financing a potential deal for Lincare, the report said.

Lincare provides homecare services to customers suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It served over 800,000 customers in 48 US states and Canda through 1,108 operating centres as of 31 December 2011.

Wage subsidies brought forward to address youth unemployment in 20 “hotspots”

Areas of the UK with high levels of youth unemployment are to benefit earlier from government help designed to tackle the problem, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced today.

Under the plan, wage subsidies to firms hiring out-of-work 18 to 24-year-olds are to be triggered early in certain “hotspots” of unemployment among young people.

In 20 deprived towns and cities, principally in South Wales, Scotland and the North and Midlands of England, the payments will be available for young people who have been out of work for six months instead of nine.

Part of the government’s GBP1bn Youth Contract which was launched late last year, the subsidy of GBP2,275 is designed to encourage firms to take on young workers. It covers six months of employment and is equivalent to half the UK’s minimum wage for a young person.

Announcing the plan at the CBI Action for Jobs Summit, Nick Clegg said that the problem of youth unemployment predates the financial crisis and targeted support must be provided “to the youngsters who struggle to break into the workplace – regardless of whether we’re in good times or not.”

This opinion was shared by CBI director-general John Cridland, also speaking at the today’s jobs summit, who commented that youth unemployment has been rising since 2004 and said that a return to growth alone will not be enough to tackle the underlying causes of the problem.

Cridland urged businesses and the government to work together to do more to give people the skills and opportunities they need to get jobs. He also called for the range of employment initiatives to be made simpler for employers, noting that employers in England alone face 47 different initiatives that offer funding and support for businesses taking on and training young unemployed people.

NBNK revises offer for 632 Lloyds Bank branches

British banking investment vehicle NBNK Investments Plc (LON:NBNK) said on Wednesday it had tabled a revised offer to buy the retail and commercial business Project Verde of Lloyds Banking Group Plc (LON:LLOY) before Lloyds’ board meeting later today.

The bidder said its fresh proposal outlines the basis of future talks with Llyods over a deal. However, due to the pressing calendar for the disposal of the package including 632 Lloyds branches, there is little time left for a deal to be agreed and completed, NBNK said.

Lloyds needs to sell the Verde assets by the end of November 2013, under an agreement with the European Union (EU) in exchange for the state aid received during the financial crisis.

The lender said it would provide updates to shareholders on the divestment plan by the end of this week.

The vendor is also in talks over a deal with the Co-operative Group (Co-op), which remains its preferred bidder.

NBNK’s previous proposal for the Lloyds branches included an alternative demerger, granting Lloyds shareholders an option to get directly cash for their interest, or shares in the combined group, the company has said. It gave no details on its new offer.

With this deal, NBNK aims to create a new nationwide player in UK’s high street banking segment.

As it was created to build a new bank with 4% to 6% of the UK’s sector market and some 400 to 600 branches through acquisitions, the discussions with Lloyds are viewed as key to NBNK’s prospects, it said earlier in June.

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UK private equity firm Pamplona acquires 5% stake in Italy’s UniCredit

UK-based private equity fund Pamplona Capital Management LLP said it had built a 5% stake in Italian lender UniCredit SpA (BIT:UCG) and became the bank’s second largest investor.

The Abu Dhabi investment fund Aabar holds the largest stake of 6.5% in the Italian lender.

Pamplona, which bought additional UniCredit stock to add to its previous 1.99% stake, said it wanted to capitalise on the expected restructuring of the banking sector in Europe.

The fund did not say how much it had paid for the UniCredit stock, but said it had used equity and debt financing to cover the deal. Based on current market prices, the stake it holds in the Italian bank is worth some EUR750m (USD).

The investment, one of the largest this year by a foreign group into an Italian company, was made through Pamplona’s EUR1bn fund The Pamplona Global Financial Institutions Fund backed by a number of institutional investors and targeting long and medium-term investments in European banks.

Reuters cited a spokesman for the private equity firm as saying that the transaction was cleared by the Italian regulators.

Russian Alfa Bank’s former CEO Alex Knaster founded Pamplona and remained a big investor in the group’s funds, the Financial Times said.

Pamplona Capital Management has over USD6bn of assets under management.
UniCredit share price has decreased by over 40% this year, Reuters said.

Standard Chartered interested in buying Barclays Indian arm

Standard Chartered Bank India, a unit of British Standard Chartered Plc (LON:STAN), is leading a race to buy some INR25bn (USD438m/EUR351m) worth of retail operations of rival Barclays Plc (LON:BARC) in India, according to informed people cited today by the Economic Times.

An unnamed senior banker told the paper that Barclays is looking to exit the retail banking business and is selling its mortgage, personal loan and commercial banking assets, with some selected private and foreign banks looking at them.

Most foreign banks active in India have been facing pressure due to the economic decline derived from the credit crunch in 2008.

Barclays, which launched its consumer banking business in India in May 2007, was forced by non-performing loans to ease up on its expansion plans and reduce jobs in order to improve its performance in the country. The British bank cut 451 jobs in the year to March 2010, reducing its workforce in India to 1,083.

According to the Economic Times, Asia-focused Standard Chartered Bank wants to add Barclays’ Indian retail banking assets to its portfolio, after buying the rival’s credit card operations in December 2011.

An unnamed director of a consultancy firm which works with the two British banks told the paper that foreign banks in India had switched direction towards high-quality credit which produced increased income and stayed away from unsecured lending.

Standard Chartered Bank India has a portfolio including consumer, wholesale, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Islamic and private banking solutions.

The lender, former Chartered Bank, was founded in 1858 and is based in Mumbai.

Anheuser-Busch confirms plans to take full control of Mexican Modelo

Belgian brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (EBR:ABI), or AB Inbev, confirmed it was in talks over a potential deal that would expand its existing relationship with 50%-owned Mexican Grupo Modelo SAB de CV (PINK:GPMCF), the maker of the Corona beer brand.

The statement was issued in response to market speculation that the Belgian brewer was seeking to buy out the remaining stake in Modelo, AB Inbev said, without giving any specifics about the terms or the price under discussion.

Bloomberg reported on Monday citing an informed source that AB Inbev was nearing a deal worth over USD12bn (EUR9.6bn) for the rest of Modelo, with the agreement to be announced this week.

In a report from Tuesday, the new agency cited another informed source as saying that AB InBev could pay USD20bn for the remaining interest in Modelo.

According to the news agency, the negotiations could still collapse.

AB InBev said in response it was routinely considering deals that could boost shareholder value and the discussions with Modelo are not certain to lead to any transaction. Speculation on terms of a potential deal are premature, the company said.

A transaction could help AB Inbev increase profit by reducing costs and create a stronger competitor for Dutch Heineken NV (AMS:HEIA), Bloomberg cited BTG Pactual analyst Rafael Shin as saying. Modelo already leads Heineken in Mexico, the world’s sixth largest beer market, Shin added.

The Belgian group took the 50% stake in Modelo as part of its acquisition of Anheuser-Busch in 2008. Heineken owns the beer operation of Fomento Economico Mexicano SAB (NYSE:FMX) in Mexico, acquired in 2010.

Spanish Banco Santander completes disposal of Columbian unit

Spain’s Banco Santander SA (MCE:SAN) said on Monday it had concluded the second and final phase of the sale of its Colombian business to Chilean lender CorpBanca (SCL:CORPBANCA).

In early December 2011, Santander said it had entered into an agreement to divest all of its Colombian units to CorpBanca. At the end of May 2012, the Spanish bank announced it had finalised the first phase of the transaction after selling 51% stakes in Banco Santander Colombia SA (CLB:SANTANDER) and in Santander Investment Trust Colombia SA for a total price of USD624m (EUR499.2m).

Today, Santander unveiled it had completed the disposal of the remaining shares in the two entities and of its other Colombian units in exchange for USD605m, thus bringing the total price for the entire business to USD1.23bn.

The Spanish lender has gained some EUR620m from the sale that will help it partially satisfy its additional provisioning of real estate assets which need to be covered by the end of the year.

Established in 1857, Banco Santander operates as a Spanish retail bank with presence in ten major markets. It manages EUR1.38trn in funds for over 102m customers across its network of about 15,000 sites. The group has a headcount of some 193,000.

Li Ka-shing closes in on a stake in Manchester Airport

Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Limited (HKG:1038), or CKI, the infrastructure investment vehicle controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, has been left with one rival in the race for a stake in UK airports operator Manchester Airport Group Plc (MAG), the Sunday Times reported without specifying its sources.

CKI is vying with Australian infrastructure fund Industry Funds Management, the newspaper said, adding that the joint venture set up by 3i Infrastructure Plc (LON:3IN) and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority was no longer in the picture.

The group of sellers, which comprises ten local authorities, is looking to raise as much as GBP1bn (USD1.6bn/EUR1.2bn) from the stake sale, using the money to pursue its own acquisition target. The target in question is Stansted airport, whose owner BAA Airports Ltd is expected to put it on the block later in 2012.

The sellers plan to establish a joint venture with the new investor but that would be conditional on success in the Stansted campaign. According to the Sunday Times, the new partner would be given an equity stake of 35% but would get 50% of the voting rights in the joint venture as a sweetener. MAG’s board gathered last week to pick a preferred bidder and is expected to announce its decision any moment now, the newspaper added.

Li, the richest man in Asia, is the biggest foreign investor in the UK. He is the owner of mobile phone operator 3, water utility Northumbrian Water, retail chain Superdrug and the Felixstowe port. If he emerges successful in the race for MAG, it would be his first investment in airport assets.