M&A Roundup

Softbank and Vodafone Japan; L'Oreal and Body Shop; Prada and Link Theory Holdings; Del Monte and Kraft ; E.W. Scripps and uSwitch; Albertson's, Su...
Helen ShawMarch 17, 2006

• Japan’s second-largest Internet access provider, Softbank Corp., agreed on March 17 to buy Vodafone Group’s Japanese mobile-phone unit for $15.4 billion in what would be Asia’s largest-ever leveraged buyout. Softbank will borrow as much as $10.3 billion to finance the purchase; it faces an April 4 deadline to prove it can pay for the deal.

• French cosmetics company L’Oreal S.A. agreed on March 17 to acquire Littlehampton, England-based beauty product retailer Body Shop International Plc. for $1.14 billion in cash. L’Oreal initially expressed interest in purchasing the company on February 23. The Body Shop will continue to be based in the United Kingdom and to operate independently.

• Milan, Italy-based Prada Holding N.V. announced on March 17 that its plans to sell its fashion label Helmut Lang for an undisclosed sum to Japan-based Link Theory Holdings Co. Prada closed its unprofitable Helmut Lang boutiques in 2005.

• San Francisco-based Del Monte Foods Co. announced on March 16 that it purchased Milk-Bone dog treats and other brands from Northfield, Illinois-based Kraft Foods Inc. for approximately $580 million. Under the deal, Del Monte would acquire two facilities in New York state, the Milk-Bone factory in Buffalo and a pet-food testing center in Sherburne. The deal has yet to receive regulatory approval.

• Cincinnati-based media group E.W. Scripps Co. announced on March 16 that it had purchased the privately held British price-comparison shopping Website uSwitch Ltd. for $366 million.

• Boise, Idaho-based Albertson’s Inc., the country’s second-largest grocery store chain, announced on March 14 that the Federal Trade Commission has approved its $9.7 billion cash-and-stock sale to a syndicate led by Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based grocer Supervalu Inc. and Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based drugstore chain CVS Corp.

• Mountain View, California-based Google Inc. announced on March 14 that it acquired Boulder, Colorado-based startup @Last Software, a maker of three-dimensional design software. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

• McLean, Virginia-based Capital One Financial Corp. announced on March 12 that it agreed to purchase Melville, New York-based North Fork Bancorp for $14.6 billion. The combined company would create the eighth-largest bank in the United States; it still faces regulatory approval.