July 25 (Reuters) - The following bids, mergers, acquisitions and disposals were reported by 2000 GMT on Thursday:
** Dell Inc founder Michael Dell raised his $24.4 billion bid by less than 1 percent just hours before it was to be put to a vote, tacking on a controversial demand to change voting rules to make it easier for him to buy and take the No. 3 personal computer maker private.
** Publisher Axel Springer AG struck a 920-million-euro ($1.22 billion) deal to sell some of Germany's best-known newspapers and magazines, severing its oldest roots to intensify its focus on digital media.
** Lenders are set to take control of Hibu Plc in a debt-for-equity deal, ending the British Yellow Pages publisher's two-year struggle under the weight of 2.3 billion pounds ($3.53 billion) of debt.
** London-based private equity fund Pamplona Capital Management LLP said it has given a 4.01 percent stake it owns in Italian lender UniCredit to Deutsche Bank in exchange for financing.
** Ethiopia on Thursday signed a $700 million agreement with China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to expand mobile phone infrastructure and introduce high-speed 4G broadband network in the capital Addis Ababa and 3G service throughout the country.
** Petronas plans to sell down its stake in a $20 billion Canadian liquefied natural gas export project to as low as 50 percent to share the cost of bringing cheap energy to Asia, three people familiar with the matter said.
** Russian oil major Rosneft is seeking a stake in Azerbaijan's Absheron gas project, sources close to the talks said, in the latest move that may help it become a competitor of Russia's gas exporter Gazprom.
** Croatia's government chose Romanian Grup Feroviar Roman (GFR) as the best bidder for a 75 percent stake in its freight railway operator, pursuing a drive to sell off state assets to help the budget.
** British engineer Invensys Plc, the target of a takeover approach from France's Schneider Electric SA, said it was still discussing the 3.3 billion pound ($5.1 billion) takeover proposal. Schneider has until Aug. 8 to say whether it intends to make a firm offer or walk away under UK takeover rules.
** The U.S. government has decided to take an additional 45 days to review a Chinese company's plan to purchase Smithfield Foods Inc, the world's largest pork producer said on Wednesday in a statement that expressed confidence the deal would close in the second half of 2013.
** The owners of video streaming site Hulu called off talks with Time Warner Cable Inc over the cable operator's plan to take a 25 percent stake after failing to agree on a price, according to two people with knowledge of the negotiations.
** Luxury sports car maker Aston Martin said it had entered into a technical partnership with German carmaker Mercedes to help it develop a new generation of models with V8 engines. As part of the deal, Mercedes owner Daimler will take a stake of up to 5 percent in the 100-year-old maker of the DB9 and Vanquish sports cars.
** Australian petrol and convenience store retailer United Petroleum is exploring a potential sale or a joint venture of the business that has a value of about A$1 billion ($921 million) including debt, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
** Japan's Aeon Co Ltd and state-owned China Resources Enterprise Ltd are among the suitors considering bids for the Hong Kong supermarket business being sold by billionaire Li Ka-shing, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Li's Hutchison Whampoa Ltd conglomerate has set an Aug. 16 deadline for initial bids for the business, with an asking price of up to $4 billion, said the people, who declined to be identified because the sale process is confidential.
** CKE Inc, the restaurant group that operates the Carl's Jr and Hardees fast food chains, is exploring a potential sale after postponing its initial public offering last year, according to three people familiar with the matter.
The Apollo Global Management-backed company is working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc to run a sale process that is in the early stages and could value the company at more than $1.7 billion, two of the people said.
** JPMorgan Chase & Co's commodity trading arm is looking to sell more of the electricity deals it has with U.S. power plants and wind farms, a source familiar with the business said on Wednesday, at a time when Wall Street's involvement in physical commodity markets is under heightened scrutiny.
** U.S. drugmakers Perrigo Co and Forest Laboratories Inc are preparing to submit takeover bids for Elan Corp Plc this week and the Irish drugmaker hopes to announce a sale as early as next week, according to three people familiar with the matter.
** MegaFon, Russia's No. 2 mobile phone company, has obtained clearance from the country's competition watchdog for a potential acquisition of rival Scartel, the regulator said.
** Specialty chemicals maker Lonza Group AG said it was ending a generic drugs venture with Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries by mutual agreement after misjudging how much it would cost.
** Three global companies are in the race to buy a stake in leading Turkish health insurer Acibadem Sigorta, sources familiar with the matter said, underscoring appetite among international investors for the fast-growing sector.
Sompo Japan Insurance, Malaysia's state-run investment firm Khazanah Nasional and British medical services group Bupa Insurance Ltd are involved in an auction process for the stake, three banking sources said.
** Dow Chemical Co will consider selling its paint, construction and chlorine businesses as it joins industry rivals in shedding units vulnerable to commodity price swings, its chief executive said. The company spokeswoman Rebecca Bentley said the three businesses combined contributed $6 billion in annual revenue.
** Chemical maker Ashland Inc said it was considering selling its water technologies unit, months after hedge fund Jana Partners picked up a stake in the company and said its stock was undervalued.
** Spanish oil group Repsol paved the way for the eventual sale of its $6 billion stake in utility Gas Natural Fenosa, acknowledging its rationale would dwindle once another planned disposal is completed.
Repsol Chief Financial Officer Miguel Martinez said the need to hold the 30 percent Gas Natural stake would diminish after Repsol closes a deal to sell a large part of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) assets to Royal Dutch Shell .
** Italian asset manager Azimut said it had agreed to buy smaller rival Augustus Opus SIM, which specializes in managing assets of wealthy individuals, in a two-step deal.
Azimut will initially buy 51 percent of Augustus, whose assets under management exceed 800 million euros ($1.06 billion), for 10 million euros ($13.24 million) and raise the stake to 100 percent after six years, it said in a statement.
** Germany's second biggest lender Commerzbank is selling a custody unit to French BNP Paribas as it continues its efforts to streamline its portfolio.
** Bankers have started to prepare debt financing packages to offer to potential buyers of GlaxoSmithKline Plc's soft drink brands Lucozade and Ribena, banking sources said.
** Legg Mason Inc Chief Executive Joseph Sullivan said the Baltimore asset manager has sold its Private Capital Management equity investment unit to its management team.