U.S. Ag Companies to Look for M&A Opportunities in Adjacent Sectors, According to New Rabobank Report

As financial markets recover, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in U.S. food and agriculture are likely to build in 2010, according to a new Rabobank report. However, antitrust issues are likely to drive companies to look for opportunities in adjacent sectors.

In August, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the USDA announced they would hold a series of public workshops to explore competition issues in the U.S. agricultural industry. These workshops, which begin in March, aim to identify an appropriate role for antitrust and the regulatory enforcement in U.S. agriculture.

While this is not a new issue, the Obama administration voiced concern over the pace and degree of concentration in agriculture, and its impact on the competitive position of farmers. This coupled with other factors triggered the workshops. [Read the full article]

Bioresearch and analytical instrumentation company MDS Inc. completed the sale of MDS Analytical Technologies to Danaher Corp. for $650 million in cash.

MDS said it plans on returning between $400 million and $450 million of the sale proceeds to shareholders through a buyback program. The company expects to initiate a “Substantial Issuer Bid” within the next 30 days.

Meanwhile, the company said it started actions to terminate its $466.9 million) revolving credit facility and to retire all outstanding senior unsecured notes at a cost of about $208.2 million.

Shares of MDS rose 30 cents, or 4 percent, to $7.71 Monday. The stock has traded between $4.42 and $8.82 over the last 52 weeks.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. [Read the full article]

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United Consortium Ltd. (OTC-UCSO), has acquired a collection of 20,000 of the greatest pop, jazz and classical tracks of all time, from artists such as Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughn, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Tammy Wynette, Hank Williams, Jr., Dolly Parton, The London Pops Orchestra and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, to name a few.

The newly formed entertainment company purchased the catalogues of Hindsight Records, Stradivari, Otelo, Michele, Tinseltown and Kielbasa with a combination of cash and stock from Hindsight Records. Inc. The company plans to license the titles to music distributors and advertisers as the first step toward becoming a full-service entertainment firm that will provide development in catalog, film, new artists and new media. [Read the full article]

The petroleum refiner Sunoco Inc. said Monday it will sell its chemical unit to Brazil’s Braskem SA for about $350 million in cash.

The move is part of Sunoco’s efforts to shed noncore assets, improve returns on invested capital and funnel sale proceeds to more strategic parts of the business.

Sunoco is selling its subsidiary Sunoco Chemicals Inc., based in Philadelphia and comprised of its polypropylene business, which makes plastics used in a variety of applications, including food containers, bike helmets and auto parts.

The sale includes manufacturing facilities in La Porte, Texas; Marcus Hook, Pa., and Neal, W.Va. Altogether these plants have the combined capacity to make about 2.1 billion pounds of polypropylene annually, or about 13 percent of installed U.S. polypropylene production capacity.

The deal should close by the end of March. Sunoco expects it to result in a pretax loss in the first quarter of about $185 million to $195 million. [Read the full article]

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