Isnin, 9 Disember 2013

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Deals of the day-mergers and acquisitions


The following bids, mergers, acquisitions and disposals were reported by 2100 GMT on Monday:

** Britain is set to shelve plans to outsource its 159 billion pound ($260 billion) military equipment buying program to a private firm, a defense ministry source said, after one of the two consortia left in the running pulled out.

** Three state-owned Gulf firms are considering a joint bid for a minority stake in Occidental PetroleumCorp's Middle East and North Africa (MENA) unit, a deal that could be worth between $8 billion and $10 billion, three banking sources said.

** Essex Property Trust Inc, a manager of residential properties on the U.S. West Coast, offered to buyBRE Properties Inc for about $4.48 billion in stock and cash.

** Sysco Corp will buy US Foods Inc for about $3.5 billion from its private equity owners in a deal that will combine the top two U.S. food distributors and create a company commanding at least a quarter of the $235 billion North American market.

** KKR & Co LP and Bain Capital are among suitors that have placed initial bids for Tyco International Inc's South Korean security systems unit, a business valued at about $1.6 billion, people familiar with the matter said.

** India's foreign investment regulator deferred a decision on Vodafone Group Plc's proposal to take full ownership of its Indian unit in a $1.6 billion deal, two government officials said.

** Lloyds Banking Group said it would bolster its capital by selling its remaining 21 percent stake in wealth manager St James's Place, worth about 700 million pounds ($1.15 billion).

** Kazakhmys is selling its stake in Kazakhstan's largest power station for $1.3 billion, the copper miner said on Monday, boosting its finances as it also told investors that its Bozshakol mine would cost almost a fifth more than planned.

** Tesco Plc, the world's third-biggest retailer, has bought a small stake in Lazada, the Southeast Asian online retail company said.

** Post Holdings Inc said it would buy private label peanut butter maker Golden Boy Foods Ltd and protein bar maker Dymatize Enterprises LLC for about $680 million to build up its nutritional and private-label foods.

** Dairy products producer WhiteWave Foods Co said it would buy organic food brand Earthbound Farm from investors including private equity firm Kainos Capital for about $600 million to expand its offerings of organic products.

** President Vladimir Putin tightened his control over Russia's media on Monday by dissolving the main state news agency and replacing it with an organization that is to promote Moscow's image abroad.

** Austrian conservatives are pushing to sell more state-owned shares in big companies such as OMV, Telekom Austria or Austrian Post as coalition talks heat up with the Social Democrats.

** Swedish investment firm Kinnevik said it had sold its entire stake in renewable packaging company BillerudKorsnas for 3.7 billion Swedish crowns ($567 million).

** British engineer Kentz said it had agreed to acquire U.S.-based Valerus Field Solutions for $435 million in cash, to expand its engineering capability and presence in Latin America.

** Nokia has offered to pay 270 million euros ($369 million) to Indian authorities to unfreeze assets in a tax dispute, according to sources familiar with the matter.

** Alibaba Group will invest HK$2.82 billion ($361 million) in appliance maker Haier Electronics Group Ltd in a deal aimed at expanding the Chinese e-commerce giant's logistics reach to the millions of consumers in China's vast interior.

** Lloyds Banking Group said it had agreed to sell a portfolio of British corporate real estate loans to an entity affiliated with Cerberus European Investments for 90 million pounds in cash.

** Colombian state-owned oil company Ecopetrol and Canada's Talisman Energy said they discovered an estimated 1.3 billion barrels of oil in southeastern Colombia and that about a tenth of it was likely to be recoverable.

** The consortium of conglomerates Ayala Corp and Metro Pacific Corp is likely to emerge the winner after submitting the highest offer for a 1.72 billion pesos ($39 million) deal to operate a smart-card system for the Philippines' elevated rail network.

** HSBC Holdings Plc is considering floating up to 30 percent of its British retail and commercial banking arm to help meet UK regulation and unlock value for shareholders, the Financial Times reported.

** Hungarian state-owned energy group MVM could buy German firm RWE's 49 percent stake inBudapest gas utility Fogaz Zrt as soon as this year, the daily Magyar Nemzet quoted Fogaz CEO Laszlo Koncz as saying in an interview.

** Saudi Arabia's Dabbagh Group is planning to sell a 19 percent stake in its lubricants business Petromin ahead of a potential public offering of the unit in 2015, banking sources aware of the matter said.

** Czech investment group PPF is in talks to sell its stake in EPH, a holding group that owns energy companies around central Europe, sources from the involved parties said.

** German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 said it was buying Comvel, operator of German travel websites and, from Investor Media Ventures.

** Russia's Uralkali, the world's largest potash producer, is to create a joint venture for potash distribution with Malaysia as it seeks to boost sales in South East Asia, the company said.

** U.S. fertilizer company Mosaic Co said it would buy back 43.3 million restricted shares from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation and the Anne Ray Charitable Trust over the next eight months.

** French energy group Areva said it agreed a commercial partnership in renewable energy with ChinaGeneral Nuclear Power that would focus on offshore wind power.

** German shipping company Hapag-Lloyd's merger talks with Chile's Vapores may herald further deals with other peers, its chief executive said, as the group strives to catch up with the industry's top three players.

** German publisher Axel Springer said it agreed to buy German news publisher N24 for an undisclosed amount.

** The deadline to bid in a court-supervised auction of struggling Canadian wireless startup Mobilicityhas been extended by a week to Dec. 16, a regulatory filing showed.

** Scents and flavours maker Symrise may lift its stakes in probiotics specialist Probi and another Swedish food ingredient company as it seeks growth in nutritional supplements that carry the promise of better health.

** Time Warner Cable's incoming chief executive Rob Marcus said he is not in a hurry to sell the company and that management is focused on running the business for the "long haul."

** French gas and power group GDF Suez said on Monday it had sold a 50 percent stake in a 440 megawatt French onshore wind farm to Credit Agricole Assurances.

** Lenders to troubled Stemcor, the world's largest steel trader, have been selling their exposure to hedge funds and distressed debt specialists before a key restructuring deadline on December 13, banking sources said.

** Italian casual clothing brand Harmont & Blaine has received offers from around 15 funds interested in buying a minority stake which the company plans to sell in the first quarter of 2014, its chief executive said. 

S&P 500 floats up to record close


NEW YORK: Stocks edged higher on Monday, with the S&P 500 closing at a record high, as traders awaited more clues from the Federal Reserve on whether the U.S. central bank would soon begin winding down its economic stimulus.

Volume was light and a volatility index fell, signaling calm among traders. The Dow industrials traded within 43.11 points from session high to intraday low, in the Dow's tightest daily range since August 17, 2012.

Speeches from a number of policymakers on Monday suggested that the Fed may be closer than previously thought to trimming its $85 billion a month in bond purchases. The stimulus program has helped drive the U.S. stock market's rally this year.

A recent string of strong economic data, however, has removed some of the market's anxiety about the eventual ending of the Fed's quantitative easing program.

A Reuters poll showed on Monday that economists expect the Fed to begin trimming its quantitative easing program in March, but some are warming up to the idea that it will do so as early as this month or at the January meeting.

The policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee will hold its final meeting of 2013 on December 17-18.

"The Fed isn't going to tighten (monetary policy) any time soon; they will taper, but only because the economy doesn't need the stimulus anymore," said John Manley, chief equity strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 5.33 points or 0.03 percent, to finish at 16,025.53. The S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 3.28 points or 0.18 percent, to end at 1,808.37, a record closing high. TheNasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 6.23 points or 0.15 percent, to close at 4,068.751.

The S&P 500 is up 26.8 percent for the year. The benchmark index is on track for its biggest annual gain in more than a decade.

Twitter's stock closed at its highest level since the company went public in early November. The stock jumped 9.3 percent to end at $49.14 after a spate of product announcements that could boost Twitter's revenue prospects.

Sysco Corp <SYY.N> shares climbed 9.7 percent to $37.62 after the food distributor said it would buy rival US Foods for about $3.5 billion and assume about $4.7 billion in debt to create a company with about $65 billion in annual revenue.

In contrast, McDonald's <MCD.N> shares fell 1.1 percent to $95.72 after the fast-food restaurant chain reported weaker-than-expected global sales at established restaurants for November. A sharp drop in comparable-store sales in the United States hurt its global sales, McDonald's said.

Shares of Edwards Lifesciences Corp <EW.N> dropped 5.4 percent to $62.73 after the company forecast 2014 earnings below analysts' estimates and said it would face new competition in the United Statesand Europe.

About 5.6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 6.16 billion average so far this month, according to data from BATS Global Markets.

Advancers and decliners were evenly distributed on the New York Stock Exchange. On the Nasdaq, two issues rose for every three that fell.=Reuters

French army battles militias in Central African Republic&#39;s capital


BANGUI (Reuters) - The French army said it has restored some stability in the capital of Central African Republic after battling gunmen on Monday in an operation to disarm rival Muslim and Christian fighters responsible for killing hundreds since last week.

Shooting erupted near Bangui's airport in the morning when gunmen refused to hand over weapons and French forces later came under attack by former rebels in the city centre, but by evening there were no armed groups on the streets, the army said.

"There are no more patrols by armed groups in the city and the population is no longer threatened by the terror that these groups caused," said Colonel Gilles Jaron, spokesman for the French army joint staff in Paris.

"The spike in violence has gone down and we have returned to a more stable situation. We are still deployed in Bangui to carry out our mission," Jaron said.

Paris boosted its military presence to 1,600 troops over the weekend as waves of religious violence swept its former colony.

At least 465 people have been killed in Bangui alone since Thursday, according to Red Cross officials.

U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has authorized military transport aircraft to carry troops to the country from Burundi to support the French-led effort, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Hagel authorized the use of the planes on Sunday after being asked for airlift assistance by French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, the spokesman said in a statement.

Central African Republic has spiralled into chaos since mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in March and embarked on months of looting, raping and killing. Seleka's leader, Michel Djotodia, installed as the interim president, has lost control of his loose band of fighters.

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor said any party involved in the violence could be prosecuted.


Christian militias and gunmen loyal to ousted president Francois Bozize attacked Bangui on Thursday, the same day the U.N. Security Council authorised France to use lethal force to help African peacekeepers already struggling to restore order.

In an early test of France's resolve, its troops traded fire with gunmen near the airport on Monday morning.

"Many armed elements who held positions in Bangui have left their positions to go back to their barracks," said Jaron, who called the incident "insignificant".

However, French troops again came under attack later in the day in the PK 5 neighbourhood from suspected Seleka fighters.

"It was an attempt to intimidate. We responded with 20mm cannon, then sent in a platoon to carry out clean-up operations," said Captain Guillaume Fresse, spokesman for the French forces in Bangui.

The French operation is running smoothly though its most difficult phase lies ahead, France's ambassador to the United Nations, Gerard Araud, told reporters in New York.

"The French forces have reestablished law and order in Bangui, even if there is still some looting in the periphery," said Araud, president of the U.N. Security Council this month, after briefing the council on the situation.

With French forces on checkpoints and on patrol, crowd violence erupted in several districts of Bangui.

In the Castor neighbourhood, a Reuters reporter saw a crowd attack a man they accused of being a disarmed Seleka fighter after French soldiers removed weapons from a house there and then left.

At a mosque in the PK 5 neighbourhood, the resident imam showed journalists the bodies of two men who he said had been beaten to death by Christians.

French troops have been broadly welcomed in a city struggling to emerge from a period that saw fighters, both Christian and Muslim, go door-to-door killing civilians.


As French warplanes and helicopters flew low overhead, residents reappeared on the streets and some shops and market stalls reopened for the first time since last week.

"Yesterday we couldn't even come here to cross this road because the Seleka came and set up a base here," said a woman who gave her name only as Armelle. "Thank God the French came. If there's peace, things will get better."

However, the United Nations said it had counted some 72,000 people displaced by the violence staying in various sites in Bangui, including at the airport, where French troops and African peacekeepers have their base.

"There are still conflicts in some neighbourhoods. There's still killing," said Amy Martin, head of the U.N. aid agency OCHA in Bangui. "For now, we don't have the feeling that people are ready to go home.

Information began to trickle in from parts of the country cut off from the capital since last week.

A humanitarian worker in the town of Bossangoa said the number of dead there from several days of violence between Seleka and Christian "anti-balaka" militias had risen to 38. France has sent two companies of troops to the town, Araud said.

In Bozoum, in the northwest, U.N. officials received reports of dozens of dead, and there was also violence in the nearby town of Bocaranga.

Humanitarian agencies and rights groups said the final toll was likely to be much higher.

(Additional reporting by Marine Pennetier in Paris, Joe Bavier in Abidjan, Matthew Mpoke Bigg in Accra, Bate Felix in Casablanca, Phil Stewart in Washington, David Alexander in Doha and Louis Charbonneau in New York; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Ralph Boulton and Paul Simao)


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