New & noteworthy: December 08, 2004

New & noteworthy: December 08, 2004

Byline: edited by Greg Johnson

edited by Greg Johnson

Nestle purchasing Wagner

Swiss food giant Nestle SA on Tuesday said it would buy a minority stake in Germany’s No. 2 frozen pizza maker, Wagner Tiefkuhlprodukte GmbH. Vevey-based Nestle didn’t release a price for the 49% stake but said Wagner has about [Euro]200 million ($269 million) in annual sales and a third of Germany’s frozen pizza market. Nestle is no stranger to the German prepared foods market, owning well-known brands such as Maggi mixes, Thomy sauces and Buitoni noodles. The German frozen pizza market is worth an estimated [Euro]700 million, with annual growth of 8%, Nestle said. No advisers were disclosed. — Andrew Bulkeley and Brenon Daly

Delphi Medical buys Peak Ind.

Delphi Medical Systems Corp. said Tuesday it had acquired Peak Industries Inc., a Colorado contract manufacturer of medical devices, for $44 million. With the addition of Peak, Delphi Medical adds new customers in the dialysis, infusion, patient-monitoring and respiratory devices markets. Peak expects sales of $72 million for 2004, according to Delphi Medical’s Troy, Mich.-based parent Delphi Corp. — Tara Croft

Caterpillar takes China’s SEM

Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest maker of earth-moving equipment, said Tuesday it has agreed to buy Chinese wheel loader supplier Shandong SEM Machinery Co. Ltd. Terms were not disclosed. Under the agreement, Caterpillar will purchase a minority SEM stake and has options to buy the rest after two years. The move is Caterpillar’s latest try at expanding its presence in China. The Peoria, Ill., conglomerate operates 10 plants in China. Some are subsidiaries and others are joint ventures. — G.J.

Axa PE gets Germany’s Gealan

Paris buyout house Axa Private Equity announced the acquisition Tuesday of Oberkotzau, Germany-based Gealan Fenstersysteme GmbH, a maker of polyvinyl chloride window and door frames and plastic extrusion tools. The seller was Belgian private equity firm GIMV NV, which bought Gealan through German subsidiary Halder Beteiligungsberatung GmbH in May 2002. No price was disclosed, but Axa said Gealan generated sales of [Euro]122 million ($164 million) in 2003, up from [Euro]78.2 million in 2001. The deal is subject to approval from the German competition regulator. — Jonathan Braude

Adobe Systems acquires Okyz

Adobe Systems Inc., a provider of digital-imaging and graphic design software, said Tuesday it has acquired Okyz SA, a French maker of 3-D software, for an undisclosed sum. In May, San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe bought Q-Link Technologies Inc., a Tampa, Fla., provider of business process management software. Terms were not disclosed. — Cheryl Meyer

WestLB puts Mid Kent on block

German bank WestLB AG signaled a new push toward the sale of the assets owned by its London-based principal finance unit by beginning an auction for its 49.9% stake in U.K. water utility Mid Kent Water plc. The water company, which WestLB acquired for [pounds sterling]106 million ($206 million) in 2001, was given the regulatory go-ahead last week to raise customer charges by 15% over the next five years. This move green-lighted a sale by WestLB. Likely bidders may include larger water companies, as well as private equity players with an interest in infrastructure and water management such as Terra Firma Capital Partners Ltd. as well as Keith Tozzi, a former executive of Mid Kent’s parent, Swann Group. Mid Kent posted an operating profit of [pounds sterling]14 million on sales of [pounds sterling]43 million in the year to March 31. — J.B.

BAE cuts stake in Saab

British aviation and defense giant BAE Systems plc said Tuesday it is cutting its stake in Swedish counterpart Saab AB to 20% from 35% and handing over control of marketing for its Gripen fighter aircraft. BAE formed a joint venture with Saab in 1995 to market the plane. It said it would keep 20% as a long-term investment. A spokesman said the shares would be introduced to the market early next year as the existing joint marketing agreement expires. Analysts expect BAE to see a gain of about [pounds sterling]140 million ($272 million). Saab, with a market cap of about 11.9 billion Swedish kronor ($1.79 billion), closed down 1.7%, at Skr113.50, on the Stockholm Stock Exchange. — Patricia Koza

Arena Resources buys lands

Tulsa, Okla., oil explorer Arena Resources Inc. said Tuesday it agreed to buy properties in West Texas from multiple unnamed sellers for $10.5 million. The price includes $9.5 million in cash and 150,000 restricted shares valued at $7 a share. The Fuhrman-Mascho prospect, in Andrews County, is Arena’s fifth and largest acquisition in the area in the past 18 months. The purchase includes 11,300 acres, 136 wells, 230 barrels of oil equivalent per day in production and 6.5 million barrels in reserves. Arena plans to close the deal Dec. 20, financing it with bank debt. n — Claire Poole


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