US-based online trading firms TradeKing and Zecco to merge operations

US online brokerages TradeKing and Zecco said that they had agreed to amalgamate their operations. The firms did not reveal the financial conditions of the transaction.

The combed company will serve some 500,000 client accounts with several billion dollars in client assets, the brokerages said.

As a result of the amalgamation, TradeKing’s clients will be able to use Zecco’s forex trading capabilities and mobile trading applications, while Zecco’s customers will benefit from TradeKing’s options trading tools, educational offerings and customer service, the firms noted.

Raymond James Financial (NYSE:RJF) acted as M&A advisor and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP – as legal advisor to Zecco on the deal. In addition, Cooley LLP was legal counsel to TradeKing.

TradeKing was founded in December 2005 and is based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The company specialises in online stock and options trading.

Zecco was set up in July 2006 and is based in San Francisco, California. The company offers an online stock, options and forex trading platform.

Reimann family sells 4.9% stake in Reckitt Benckiser for £1.2bn

German Reimann family’s JAB Holdings BV said on Thursday it had sold to institutional investors 36m shares in British consumer goods firm Reckitt Benckiser Group plc (LON:RB), or 4.9%, for gross proceeds of some GBP1.2bn (USD1.9bn/EUR1.5bn).

The shares were sold at GBP33.50 apiece through an accelerated bookbuild managed by BofA Merrill Lynch, the vendor said, without disclosing the names of the buyers.

Plans to sell the stake, which left JAB with 10.5% in Reckitt Benckiser, were announced on 9 May, when the vendor said it wanted to raise funds for new investments and diversify its portfolio.

JAB will keep its seat in Reckitt Benckiser’s board after this deal, it said, adding that it would not shed any more Reckitt Benckiser shares for one year.

The investor reaffirmed its commitment to Reckitt Benckiser and its confidence in the company’s new management team and its strategy and prospects.

JAB also owns a majority stake in US fragrances maker Coty Inc which launched in April a USD10bn offer to buy rival Avon Products Inc (NYSE:AVP).

Reckitt Benckiser makes branded household, health and personal care products, selling a range of them through more than 60 operating companies into nearly 200 countries. Its geographical segments include Europe, North America and Australia, Developing Markets and RB Pharmaceuticals.

Greek Tsakos Energy braves equity markets via book-runner Credit Suisse

Greek energy transportation group Tsakos Energy Navigation (NYSE:TNP) has decided to tap investors for fresh equity, despite continuing worries of the Greek economy and the European sovereign debt crisis, the New York-listed firm said.

The company has mandated Credit Suisse as the book-runner for the stock offering. Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) has been hired as senior co-manager for the offering, while Clarkson Capital Markets, Dahlman Rose & Co and Brock Capital are co-managing the issue.

Tsakos Energy is issuing 10m ordinary shares at a price of USD6.50 (EUR4.95) each, 3.4% below the closing price of the company’s stock on 18 April. The underwriters also have the right to buy up to an additional 1.5m shares within 30 days of the closing of the offering. Affiliates of the company’s biggest shareholder, Tsakos Holdings Foundation, have agreed to buy 2m of the shares offered by Tsakos Energy.

The stock is being issued by means of a prospectus supplement and accompanying base prospectus pursuant to a shelf registration statement previously filed with and declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The closing of the sale is expected on 24 April, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.

Tsakos Energy expects gross proceeds of around USD65m from the offering. It intends to use the funds to finance growth initiatives, working capital and other general corporate purposes.