Latest Reports

June 01, 2017 | Media | Europe | Ended

Sky / Twenty-First Century Fox : Public Interest and Fit and Proper Analysis

Permutations of outcomes shortly after 20-Jun-17 can dramatically shift the timing and deal completion expectations of Sky / 21st Century Fox. A logical hypothesis is that, assuming a continuity of government on 9-Jun-17, around a month after receiving reports from Ofcom and the CMA, in July 2017, the Secretary of State will issue a statement of no concern on public interest or will consider undertakings in lieu (UILs) of a CMA Phase II review that will involve minor internal structure changes such as the creation of an independent Sky News board, and corporate governance and editorial committees. Conversely, risks are that the Secretary of State errs on the side of caution and refers the deal on concerns related to Fox and Sky’s “genuine commitment” to broadcasting standards, stemming from the post-deal ownership structure and the Murdoch family’s potential influence on Sky News’ editorial content. The wild card is Ofcom’s fit and proper assessment, but the regulator will not likely act on unsubstantiated allegations against Fox News. That said, we cannot rule out that Ofcom requires more time to investigate Fox’s shortfalls or conducts another test during the lifetime of the deal should new material evidence arise. In this note, we look at what will drive the deal, including a close examination of: the timing of events surrounding the submission of reports to the Secretary of State on 20-Jun-17; the impact of the upcoming UK General Election; what Ofcom will consider in its public interest and fit and proper investigations, based on precedents; the allegations at Fox News and the impact of US federal investigations; Fox's likely UILs and responses; and, dividend and trading considerations.


May 02, 2017 | Energy | Europe | Ended

Amec Foster Wheeler / John Wood Group : Antitrust, Interloper and Break Price Risks

Wood Group’s all-stock offer presents a life-line for heavily-indebted Amec. The UK engineering and services company recently suspended its dividend, announced a profit warning less than six months ago, cancelled an investor event day to further delay definitive recovery plans, is on the cusp of undertaking a £500m rights issue, and has confirmed expectations of yet another year of oil and gas decline. We see the agreed deal as a rescue takeover, disguised as a merger-of-equals, but with downside heavily skewed against Amec should the transaction fail. This research note evaluates the factors that will most likely influence the risk arbitrage spread over the next months, including analyses on possible counterbidders (for both companies), likely pushback from antitrust regulators as it relates to the combined company’s North Sea dominance of service contracts, and whether the transaction is financially and operationally attractive for Wood Group. UK definitive deals are among the safest globally, which should point to successful completion, but as risk arbitrage funds have recently experienced in Rite Aid (RAD US) and Zodiac Aerospace (ZC FP), public M&A that involves a target that is struggling operationally sometimes inadvertently leads to deal complications, even if the issues are initially unrelated to the target’s operations.


May 02, 2017 | Industrials | Europe | Ended

WS Atkins / SNC-Lavalin Group : Potential M&A Activism and Bumpitrage

What was initially a straightforward, strategic public UK acquisition, beneficial for each party involved, has changed its course after an influential new shareholder, Elliott Advisors UK, initiated a meaningful 6.8% stake in the takeover target, WS Atkins. During the next two months, until Atkins’ Court Meeting and EGM in June 2017, we can expect Elliott to follow its playbook which may include increasing its stake and pressuring SNC to increase its offer. Other event driven funds will piggyback off the activist hedge fund’s idea and buy Atkins shares, potentially large enough to put the Atkins shareholder vote in question. With committed financing, few antitrust risks and no SNC shareholder vote needed, the Atkins shareholder vote is the sole gating item that prevents the deal from completing as early as July of this year. Our analysis provides an informed look at M&A activism in Europe and evaluates the historical success rate of dissident target shareholders that demand changes to a transaction. This can offer a roadmap for any upcoming demands to SNC – in private or publicly. We also look at the expected Atkins shareholding required to block the transaction and highlight situations where scheme votes have both failed and succeeded due to M&A activism. Finally, we assess the need for SNC to pursue the acquisition in the face of a necessary bump to secure shareholder support.


April 03, 2017 | Industrials | Europe | Ended

Zodiac / Safran : Assessing the Consequences of Zodiac’s Profit Warnings

A complex web of pressures faces Safran’s board in its pursuit of Zodiac, and it will take a lot of handholding to appease the ambitions of key shareholders (Zodiac’s reference shareholders, TCI, the French state), in structuring a deal that addresses tax consequences (at a fair price), while offsetting potential long-term risks due to questionable due diligence and botched execution. By far, the easiest move for Safran is to walk away, and Zodiac’s latest profit warning gives Safran a one-time opportunity to save face, pain- and litigation-free. In this report, we present balanced arguments based on our analysis of the companies and key shareholders, to answer, amongst other questions: 1) Will Zodiac’s reference shareholders accept a lower offer, knowing that a failed transaction will dismiss a formidable partner and lead to a substantial decline in Zodiac shares?; 2) Will Safran continue to pursue Zodiac and, if so, will it lower the deal consideration and/or amend the deal structure?; and, 3) How will Safran’s shareholders, including TCI, react to a new deal, and is there anything activists can do to prevent an amended transaction from consummating?


March 10, 2017 | Health Care | Europe | Ended

Actelion / Johnson & Johnson : Uptravi Assessment and the R&D NewCo Spin-off

The Actelion / J&J deal has multiple moving parts that should together determine whether the transaction will successfully complete, on time, and will offer a meaningful return to shareholders. This research report assesses and answers two investment questions: 1) can the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) swiftly conclude that Actelion’s Uptravi drug be withdrawn in Europe, and could this persuade the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to follow suit, thus provoking J&J to invoke the Material Adverse Effect (MAE) clause, all within two months?; and, 2) is there substantial value in the R&D NewCo “sweetener”, and will the market realise this value ahead of the deal closing?


January 24, 2017 | Media | Europe | Ended

Sky / Twenty-First Century Fox : Opportunities and Risks For M&A Activism

Sky’s Independent Committee recommends that minority shareholders accept a 1,075p bid from Fox, while its financial advisers’ own research analysts had forecasted that Sky will trade at 1,000-1,050p in 12 months, as a standalone company. Has the Independent Committee truly negotiated the best premium for minority shareholders, and has in no way been influenced by Sky’s Chairman, James Murdoch, the current CEO of Fox? Fox’s pending takeover of Sky has been accepted by an Independent Committee that is questionably independent. While the control premium offered is higher than precedent minority buyouts, Sky was pursued at its most vulnerable point, when investors shunned the company due to concerns over slowing organic growth, increasing operating costs, threatening competition from over-the-top, broadband and TV rivals, and underwhelming contribution from the company’s recent investments in Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland. Add to these issues a depressed British Pound resulting from the June 2016 UK Referendum on EU membership and we have what media experts refer to as a “bargain of a lifetime”. At its current terms, the offer is both very accretive for Fox shareholders and, for Fox management, it “helps complete the jigsaw of capabilities”. We believe that investors have sound arguments to complain, that Fox has a strong desire to secure full control, and that only a handful of large investors can call the shareholder vote into question. As such, M&A activism is possible on the notion that Sky minority shareholders deserve a higher offer. In this report, we assess why European antitrust and media plurality aspects can be dealt with comfortably. We believe that the deal will lead to media plurality being maintained since Fox's 2013 spin-off from News Corp separated itself from any newspaper business, thus ensuring a sufficient voice to the UK public. Furthermore, Sky's 2014 acquisitions of Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia have cleaned up the companies and antitrust issues for these acquisitions have already been reviewed and approved by the EC. More importantly, this report evaluates the opportunities and risks for M&A activism and Fox's potential response to this.


December 21, 2016 | Industrials | North America | Ended

Monsanto / Bayer : International Antitrust Scrutiny

This 62-page risk arbitrage research report focuses almost exclusively on the international (ex-US) antitrust aspects of the deal, less covered, yet potentially deal-breaking risks. The analysis considers the deal’s effects on competition in China and Latin America, and pays particular attention to scrutiny from the European Competition Commission (EC). The findings suggest that there is potential for the EC to block the deal, stemming from issues with: 1) BASF, which could be unwilling to help and/or may instead purchase divested assets from Dow/DuPont, and, 2) the EC, potentially defining the “bundling” of seeds and crop protection products as a distinct product market, which could lead to monopolistic dominance and foreclose competitors on conglomerate grounds. Until we receive more clarity on the Dow/DuPont EC decision and corresponding divestiture buyers, we would not be long Monsanto.


November 01, 2016 | Financials | Europe | Ended

Delta Lloyd / NN Group : Pre-Event Risks, the Stichting and Shareholder Reactions

Soft catalyst special situations, which include pre-event M&A, is a popular strategy among event driven funds and can be lucrative. While it is not a deal that we would usually cover, the Delta Lloyd / NN Group pre-event situation is of particular interest as it illustrates the difficulty in: 1) assessing the outcome of a proposed offer; and, 2) concluding whether or not companies will eventually agree to an M&A transaction. Through statistical analysis and a thorough investigation of precedent takeover proposals, we highlight the risks involved in buying potential targets at elevated prices in hopes of an agreed deal, an increased proposal or a counterbid. Funds only need to have experienced or read our case studies on failed European pre-event M&A, such as K+S (SDF GY) / Potash (POT CN), Syngenta (SYNN VX) / Monsanto (MON US) and AstraZeneca (AZN LN) / Pfizer (PFE US), among others, to understand how swift and significant losses can be in undertaking this strategy.


October 26, 2016 | Industrials | Europe | Ended

Kuka / Midea : Implications of the BMWi Certificate Withdrawal of Aixtron / Grand Chip

Our thoughts on the likelihood that the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) revisits and revokes the Certificate of Non-Objection that was issued for Midea’s acquisition of Kuka. This is on the back of the recent confirmation that Grand Chip Investment received a letter from BMWi announcing the withdrawal of the BMWi Certificate of Non-Objection, that previously approved the Aixtron / Grand Chip transaction on 8-Sep-16.


October 13, 2016 | Industrials | Europe | Ended

Syngenta / ChemChina : Loan Refinancing Considerations

Nervousness has resurfaced in Syngenta. This is due to recent Chinese press reports which suggest that state-backed equity investors might not participate in the deal, thus threatening the proposed financing structure. Syngenta has since sent emailed statements to press outlets on 10-Oct-16, confirming that the bridge financing provided by HSBC and China CITIC Bank Int’l is “committed and irrevocable”. Similarly, on 11-Oct-16, dealReporter disclosed that ChemChina has sought to assure its lenders that the equity arrangements and overall financing package are progressing well. Still, the risk arbitrage spread remains wide and investors have doubts over the success of the transaction.



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