Blackstone raises Equity Office bid
Private equity firm Blackstone Group raised its offer yesterday to buy Equity Office Properties Trust by 11 percent to $22.3 billion, or $54 per share in cash, topping a rival bid from Vornado Realty Trust. Including debt, the deal could be worth as much as $38 billion, given $16.49 billion in Equity Office's debt reported as of Sept. 30. That valuation ranks it the largest-ever private equity buyout bid, surpassing the 1988 takeover of RJR Nabisco Inc. by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., according to data from Dealogic. Excluding debt, it is the second largest after RJR Nabisco, which was valued at $25.1 billion excluding debt.
Midwest Air rejects AirTran bid
The board of Midwest Air Group Inc. has recommended shareholders reject a buyout offer worth $345 million by AirTran Holdings Inc. The Milwaukee-based parent of Midwest Airlines said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing yesterday that the board unanimously recommended that shareholders reject the offer and not tender their shares to AirTran. AirTran disclosed in mid-December that it had bid $11.25 per share on Oct. 20 for Midwest Air Group, but Midwest turned down the $290 million offer on Dec. 6. AirTran Holdings raised the offer this month, offering shareholders $13.25 a share in cash and stock. Midwest's board said in the filings the offer was "inadequate."
U.S. awards Michelin pact worth $1.7 billion
Michelin North America has landed a 10-year, $1.7 billion contract with the Defense Department to supply tires from Michelin and other companies to the U.S. military for its ground-wheeled vehicles, officials said yesterday.
Time selling 18 smaller magazines
Magazine publisher Time Inc. said yesterday that it was selling 18 of its smaller titles, including Popular Science, Field & Stream and Parenting to Swedish publisher Bonnier Magazine Group. The sale marked the latest effort by the magazine company to restructure its business and adapt as readers and advertisers increasingly look to the Internet for news, entertainment and information. Time Inc. originally put the magazines up for sale last fall, and the sale had been widely expected. The sale price was between $220 million and $230 million, according to two people familiar with the transaction who spoke on condition of anonymity because the financial terms have not been officially disclosed.
American Community Newspapers sold
American Community Newspapers LLC, which owns 73 publications in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Dallas-Fort Worth and suburban Washington areas, is being sold to a publicly traded firm created in 2005 expressly to make acquisitions. Under the deal, Courtside Acquisition Corp. of New York will pay at least $160 million - and up to $15 million more if the acquired newspapers' cash flow reaches certain targets. Three top ACN executives will take over the leadership of Courtside, which was formed as a "specified purpose acquisition company," according to the announcement Wednesday.
AT&T; net income rises 17%
AT&T; Inc. said yesterday that fourth-quarter earnings rose 17 percent, led by growth in wireless subscribers. For the three months that ended Dec. 31, the provider of local phone, cellular and DSL Internet services posted net income of $1.94 billion, or 50 cents a share. In the comparable quarter a year earlier, earnings totaled $1.66 billion, or 46 cents per share.
Amgen reports flat profit
Amgen Inc. reported fourth-quarter earnings that were essentially flat. For the quarter that ended Dec. 31, the biotechnology company reported a profit of $833 million, or 71 cents a share, a 1 percent increase over the $824 million it earned in the corresponding period last year. If not for special expenses related to employee stock options and costs associated with three biotech company acquisitions, Amgen said it would have earned $1.06 billion, or 90 cents a share.
Baxter profit rises about 48%
Baxter International Inc., which makes intravenous supplies and treatments for cancer and kidney disease, said yesterday that its fourth-quarter profit rose nearly 48 percent, driven by increased sales from its BioScience division. Net income was $431 million, or 66 cents per share, up from $292 million, or 46 cents per share, a year ago.
Dow Jones net rises sharply
Dow Jones & Co. reported sharply higher fourth-quarter earnings yesterday on special gains from the sale of several newspapers, an acquisition and stronger ad sales at The Wall Street Journal. The company, which also publishes Barron's, Dow Jones Newswires and other publications, earned $192.9 million, or $2.30 per share, for the fourth quarter, up from $41.2 million, or 49 cents per share, in the corresponding period a year ago. Revenue rose 6.1 percent to $485.4 million, partly because of the acquisition of the other half of the Factiva news database business.
Agere Systems swings to profit
Agere Systems, a chip maker, reported fiscal first-quarter profit of $16 million, or 9 cents a share, compared with a loss of $19 million, or 11 cents a share, a year earlier.
Alaska Air narrows loss
Alaska Air Group, parent of Alaska Air and Horizon Air, reported a net loss of $11.6 million, or 29 cents per share, in the quarter that ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of $33 million, or $1.15 per share, in the prior-year quarter. Excluding fuel-hedging losses and restructuring costs, the loss would have been 8 cents per share.
Nintendo profit up 43% in 9 months
Booming year-end sales of the wand-wielding Wii game console sent profit at Nintendo soaring 43 percent for the nine months that ended December, the Japanese manufacturer of Pokemon and Super Mario games said yesterday. Nintendo Co., which also makes GameBoy Advance and Nintendo DS hand-held machines, recorded group net profit of 131.9 billion yen ($1.1 billion) in the first nine months of the fiscal year, up sharply from 92.2 billion yen the corresponding period a year earlier. The company did not break down quarterly numbers.
This column was compiled from dispatches by the Associated Press and Bloomberg News.