Top of the Morning – Jack Ma Looks for Yahoo Bid Allies

Alibaba Turns to Private Equity for Allies to Bid on Yahoo (WSJ)

Jack Ma, chief executive of Chinese Internet company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., is looking for U.S. partners and hopes to meet with private-equity companies in coming weeks about a potential bid to buy Yahoo Inc., he said Thursday. ”We’re interested in partnering more, and we’re interested in investing,” he said, adding that the U.S. needs more foreign investment, including from China. ”It’s good for the U.S.A.; it’s good for others,” he said. Mr. Ma’s comments come as Baidu Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd.—Chinese companies that are among the world’s largest Internet businesses by market cap—expand their product reach and make acquisitions outside China.

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Grupo Santander to Sell 35% of Its Auto Financing Unit in $1.15B Deal (NYTimes)

Spain’s Grupo Santander, the euro zone’s largest bank by market capitalization, announced a $1.15 billion deal on Friday to sell a 35 percent stake in its automotive financing unit in the United States to a group of private equity investors, as it looks to shore up its balance sheet. Under the terms of the agreement, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Centerbridge Partners and Warburg Pincus will invest a combined $1 billion for a 25 percent share in Santander Consumer USA. Dundon DFS will pay $150 million for a 10 percent stake in Santander Consumer USA.

GE Profit Up 57% (WSJ)

General Electric Co.’s third-quarter earnings rose 57% as energy-infrastructure gains helped offset flat revenue at the GE Capital finance arm and the absence of media company NBC Universal. GE reported a profit of $3.22 billion, up from $2.06 billion a year earlier. On a per-share basis, which includes eight cents a share in costs in the latest period the redemption of preferred sharse, earnings came in at 22 cents a share. Excluding the redemption, earnings rose to 31 cents from 28 cents a year earlier.

Citic Accepts Peabody Energy and ArcelorMittal‘s $5B Takeover Bid for Macarthur Coal (FT)

China’s Citic Resources has accepted Peabody Energy and ArcelorMittal’s A$4.9bn ($5bn) takeover offer for Australia’s Macarthur Coal, taking the bid to the brink of success, the companies said on Friday. According to Peabody and ArcelorMittal, they will control more than 49 per cent of Macarthur with the acceptance from Citic – Macarthur’s top shareholder – and intend to declare the offer unconditional on obtaining 50.01 per cent. The offer price of A$16.00 per share will increase to A$16.25 per share if the 90 per cent threshold is reached.

Reader’s Digest to Sell Allrecipes Site (NYTimes)

The Reader’s Digest Association said on Thursday that it was exploring a potential sale of its Allrecipes unit, as the media company continues to reorganize its business. Reader’s Digest is working with Morgan Stanley and Evercore Partners on its strategic options review.

Lobbyists Call for Lower IPO Barriers (FT)

A lobbying effort is getting under way to loosen restrictions on smaller companies going public, including rules put in place after the bursting of the “dotcom” bubble, as a way to create jobs. A task force convened earlier this year by the Treasury department, consisting of bankers, investors, company executives and venture capitalists, released a series of proposals that included exempting small companies from some securities laws, altering Wall Street restrictions on analyst research and offering tax breaks to long-term investors in initial public offerings.

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