DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
A $3.2 billion merger of equals between reinsurers Transatlantic Holdings Inc. (TRH) and Allied World Assurance Co. Holdings AG (AWH) led a spate of smallish deals during a busy period from late Sunday to early Monday that saw a sharp uptick in U.S. merger-and-acquisition activity.
Deal activity had slowed in recent months after a robust end to 2010, but valuations have become more attractive in recent weeks as the Dow Jones Industrial Average is coming off its sixth straight week in the red. Still, the declines have been relatively shallow, with the Dow losing 4.4% from April 29 to Friday's close.
Monday appears on track to mark the biggest day for M&A based on total deal value since May 4, according to research from Dealogic and Dow Jones Newswires. Acquisitions worth more than $12 billion were proposed Monday, compared with $14.2 billion. The data from Monday also include deals disclosed late Sunday, and updated figures from Dealogic are expected later Monday.
U.S. stocks briefly got a boost from the improved sentiment but were wavering in and out of positive territory in recent trading as energy and material stocks weakened.
Among the deals reported late Sunday and ahead of Monday's opening bell:
- Transatlantic Holdings Inc. (TRH) and Allied World Assurance Co. Holdings AG (AWH) said Sunday they are merging to create a global insurance and reinsurance company in a $3.2 billion stock-for-stock deal. The merger will offer reinsurer Transatlantic new primary insurance operations and a bigger capital base outside the U.S.
- VF Corp. (VFC), whose brands include Wrangler denim and Nautica apparel, agreed to buy footwear company Timberland Co. (TBL) for about $2 billion, taking advantage of Timberland's beaten-down stock price to boost its outdoor and action-sports businesses. Shares of Timberland, which specializes in boots and outdoor apparel, traded above the offer price as recently as late April, but a disappointing first-quarter report last month sent the stock tumbling. Monday's bid represents a 43% premium over Friday's close.
- Graham Packaging Co. (GRM) received a competing takeover offer valued at about $1.64 billion from a third party, which its board determined could lead to a superior proposal to its pending $1.45 billion takeover by Silgan Holdings Inc. (SLGN). The latest offer, of $25 a share, represents a 50% premium over Graham's price before Silgan's April offer and set off a bidding war for the supplier of plastic containers to the food and consumer-products industries. Graham's board said it hasn't changed its recommendation regarding Silgan's pending deal.
- U.K. financier Hugh Osmond's listed cash-shell Horizon Acquisition Co. (HZN.LN) said Monday it has paid $855 million in cash and shares for Florida-based APR Energy Ltd., a power generation firm owned by George Soros and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. APR will be folded into Horizon, which will be renamed APR Energy PLC.
- Honeywell International Inc. (HON) agreed to buy the mobile-computer maker EMS Technologies Inc. (ELMG) for about $491 million--a 33% premium to EMS's Friday closing price--in a move that expands its mobile-computing business into the warehousing and port segments.
- Privately held diversified company MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc. said it has offered to acquire all the shares of M&F Worldwide Corp. (MFW) it doesn't already own in a deal that values the company at $464 million. M&F has four business segments with offerings that include check-related products, office products and licorice products for sale to tobacco, food and pharmaceutical industries. The deal, worth $24 a share, represents a 42% premium over Friday's closing price. The stock traded above the offer price as recently as early last month, but sharply declined in the wake of disappointing first-quarter results. MacAndrews already has a 43% stake in the company.
- Aetna Inc. (AET) agreed to buy Genworth Financial Inc.'s (GNW) Medicare-supplement business for about $290 million, as Genworth continues to narrow its focus on retirement and protection products.
- Gerber Scientific Inc. (GRB) agreed to be acquired by technology-investment firm Vector Capital Corp. for about $281.8 million, a 35% premium to Friday's close, which follows Gerber's recent efforts to restructure.
- Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) agreed to acquire NewWave Communications' cable systems in Kentucky and western Tennessee for $260 million. The deal adds about 70,000 basic video subscribers, 42,000 Internet subscribers and 26,000 phone subscribers to the total of about 14.5 million customers that Time Warner reported as of the end of the first quarter.
- Wendy's/Arby's Group Inc. (WEN) agreed to sell most of its struggling Arby's chain for $130 million in cash to a group led by private-equity firm Roark Capital Group in a deal that leaves it with an 18.5% ownership stake in the fast-food restaurant. Despite turnaround efforts at Arby's giving sales a boost, Wendy's has remained under pressure to sell Arby's, whose performance has lagged until recently. The parties estimated the total deal, which also includes debt assumption by Roark and the triggering of a tax benefit to Wendy's, is valued at about $430 million.
- Wedbush Inc. on Monday completed a deal to acquire Lime Brokerage LLC, one of the biggest U.S. providers of services to high-frequency trading firms, the companies said. The move gives Los Angeles-based Wedbush a broader line of offerings ahead of new rules requiring stricter risk controls for electronic traders, which go into effect in July. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
- Privately held Synageva BioPharma Corp. and Trimeris Inc. (TRMS) agreed to an all-stock merger, under which Synageva will emerge with a 75% stake in the combined company and Trimeris will have the remainder. Further financial details weren't disclosed. The deal helps Synageva move ahead on its enzyme replacement therapy for the rare disorder LAL Deficiency.
--Drew FitzGerald, Tess Stynes, Melodie Warner and Mia Lamar contributed to this article.