(Adds Element Financial, PSP, AstraZeneca, Alstom, General Electric, Magnetar, Flipkart, Telus, Talvivaara; Updates Rio Alto)
May 21 (Reuters) - The following bids, mergers, acquisitions and disposals were reported by 2000 GMT on Wednesday:
** European Union antitrust regulators are asking British retailers whether the 3.8-billion-pound ($6.41 billion) merger of mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse and Dixons Retail will push up the prices of mobile phones and tablets.
** Canadian equipment finance company Element Financial Corp is in exclusive talks to buy PHH Corp’s fleet-leasing business for about $1.35 billion in a deal structured to include significant tax benefits, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
** Canadian pension fund PSP Investment is making a surprise comeback in the race to buy broadcasting masts group TDF’s French unit, opening a new episode in a protracted selloff saga, said three sources familiar with the matter.
** AstraZeneca ’s shareholders remain split over the UK pharmaceuticals giant’s decision to reject a $118 billion offer from U.S. rival Pfizer, with AXA coming out against it while Threadneedle supported it.
** Alstom is set to reject a request by suitor Siemens for more information about its power business, a person close to the French company said, reducing the chances of a bid to rival General Electric’s $17 billion approach.
** General Electric Co Chief Executive Jeff Immelt said on Wednesday that GE is still going to “work constructively” with the French government regarding its offer to acquire the power business of France’s Alstom and that he expects the deal to close.
** DirecTV will negotiate a deal with the National Football League independently, AT&T Inc.’s chief financial officer said, days after the mobile carrier announced a bid for the company that hinges on a renewal of the NFL Sunday Ticket Football Package.
** Goldman Sachs has begun a formal process to sell the metals warehousing business it purchased four years ago, a spokesman said on Tuesday, disclosing the first definitive effort to shed the operation amid regulatory and political pressure. The Wall Street firm, one of the few major global banks that has not retreated from commodity markets in recent months, decided to explore a sale after receiving interest from potential buyers, the spokesman said in an email to Reuters.
** ConAgra Foods Inc, Cargill Inc and CHS Inc won U.S. antitrust approval on Tuesday to merge their North American flour mill operations after agreeing to sell four mills to a Japanese company. The companies had announced in March 2013 that ConAgra would join Horizon Milling, a joint venture of Cargill and CHS Inc that is the largest flour miller in America.
** Clayton, Dubilier & Rice LLC is in advanced talks to acquire wound care company Healogics Inc from private equity peer Metalmark Capital Holdings LLC for around $1 billion, according to people familiar with the matter. CD&R has so far outbid other private equity firms in the auction for Healogics, including TPG Capital LP and a consortium of Ares Management LP and Leonard Green & Partners LP, the people said this week.
** Newly elected Indian premier Narendra Modi is exploring breaking up state behemoth Coal India Ltd and opening up the sector to foreign investment to boost output and cut imports, said two sources with knowledge of the matter. Red tape, strikes, protests against land acquisition and delays in obtaining environmental approvals have kept coal output far below demand, making India the world’s No.3 importer even though it sits on the fifth-largest reserves.
** Germany’s Siemens wrote to Alstom on Tuesday asking for more information ahead of a likely offer for the French company’s power business, French Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg said. Alstom is already in talks with U.S. conglomerate General Electric over a 12.35 billion euro ($16.9 billion) bid for its power arm, which it is due to review by June 2. Under pressure from the French government, however, it has opened its books to Siemens as well.
** Russia’s Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest nickel and palladium producer, has agreed to sell its Australian nickel assets Avalon and Cawse to investment firm Wingstar, the Russian company said.
** Private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC is close to a deal to acquire Wencor Group LLC, a manufacturer of commercial aircraft parts, for between $800 million and $900 million, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
** Hedge fund Magnetar Capital is suing U.S. drugs wholesaler McKesson, saying its acquisition of German peer Celesio short-changed minority shareholders and bondholders by around 370 million euros ($507 million).
** With Amazon.com Inc ramping up its presence in India, two local online retailers are preparing for tougher competition with separate deals worth a combined $400 million set to be finalised this week.
Flipkart, India’s largest online retailer, is expected on Thursday to announce its acquisition of a majority stake in online fashion retailer Myntra in a deal worth about $300 million, said an official from Myntra who did not want to be named as he was not authorised to speak with the media.
In a separate deal, local online retailer Snapdeal has raised $100 million from five investors, a company official said on Wednesday. The deal will be announced in a few days, he said.
** Lithuanian state-owned companies have agreed a deal to buy stakes in the Baltic country’s gas and power utilities from Germany’s E.ON, the government said on Wednesday.
The deal, which the government said was valued at 147.3 million euros ($201.73 million), will give the state majority stakes in key gas pipelines, which were privatised a decade ago.
** Pakistan’s central bank has given Meezan Bank Ltd approval “in-principle” to purchase the local banking business of HSBC, the sharia-compliant lender said in a bourse filing. The statement did not give a price for the deal, which still requires shareholder approval and final consent by the regulator.
** Nippon Life Insurance Co said it agreed to buy a 20 percent stake in Indonesia’s Sequis Life for 4.87 trillion rupiah ($423.9 million), joining its Japanese peers who are expanding in rapidly growing Southeast Asian markets.
** Canada’s Rio Alto Mining Ltd said on Wednesday it would buy Sulliden Gold Corp Ltd for about C$300 million ($275 million) in an all-stock deal to create a Peru-focused gold miner.
** Upstream oil and gas firm KrisEnergy Ltd said it planned to buy the remaining stake in an oil block in Thailand from Mubadala Petroleum, a subsidiary of an Abu Dhabi state investor, for $102.5 million.
** Indonesian retailer Mitra Adiperkasa said it would sell majority stakes in its Domino’s Pizza and Burger King chains to keep its capital to develop its other franchises. Mitra Adiperkasa has reached an understanding with Everstone Capital, a private equity firm from Singapore, to sell a majority stake in Domino’s Pizza.
** China’s Sinopec Group said it agreed with U.S.-listed Weatherford International to form a joint venture oilfield service company.
** Investment group PPF said on Wednesday the bid price for a buyout offer of minority shareholders of Telefonica Czech Republic was set at 295.15 crowns per share.
The Czech central bank had earlier approved the offer as the market regulator. PPF said it would not comment further until the offer document was published, which is expected no later than June 3.
** CVC Capital Partners Ltd has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Hong Kong-based serviced office provider The Executive Centre Ltd from Headland Capital Partners.
** Law firm leaders at Patton Boggs in Washington, D.C., were tallying votes on Tuesday on a proposed merger with Squire Sanders, a deal that is expected to be approved and that would provide financial relief to struggling Patton Boggs. While votes submitted by partners of the 300-lawyer Patton Boggs were still being counted, three sources close to the deal said it was widely expected that the partnership would approve the proposed merger.
** Novatek is in discussions with Asia-based companies on the sale of a stake in the Yamal LNG project, Chief Financial Officer Mark Gyetvay said.
** Tanzania, a hotspot for natural gas exploration, has received five bids for just half of the eight oil and gas blocks it offered in its latest bidding round, its upstream regulator said on Wednesday. Tanzania, which has made big discoveries of natural gas off its southern coast, had offered seven deep-sea offshore blocks and one block in Lake Tanganyika.
** Malaysia’s CIMB Group Holdings Bhd is looking at mid-tier Philippine banks as possible acquisition targets after its failed attempt to buy into a local bank last year, its chief executive said on Wednesday.
** Finnish nickel miner Talvivaara, which is undergoing a debt restructuring, should seek a merger with an industrial partner along with its search for new investors, its administrator said.
** Canada’s Telus Corp has withdrawn its bid to acquire struggling domestic wireless company Mobilicity, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing a source it did not identify.
** Consumer lender Home Credit B.V. said it had no plans to sell its operations in Russia.
$1 = 1.09 Canadian dollars $1 = 0.73 Euros $1 = 11487.5 Indonesian rupiah $1 = 0.59 British Pounds Compiled by Natalie Grover and Sampad Patnaik in Bangalore