(Adds Cosan, Mediaset, Aspen Pharmacare, Mastercard; Updates ArcelorMittal, Entegris, Metro)
March 8 (Reuters) - The following bids, mergers, acquisitions and disposals were reported by 2100 GMT on Friday:
** Italy’s antitrust regulator has opened a probe over the sale of Mediaset’s pay-tv assets to Sky’s Italian unit, it said.
** Norway’s trillion-dollar sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest, will sell its stakes in oil and gas explorers and producers but still invest in energy firms that have refineries and other downstream activities, according to a government plan.
** Shares in Aspen Pharmacare lost almost a third of their value on concerns about ballooning debt at Africa’s biggest drugmaker and delays in the sale of an infant formula business that would help bring borrowing down.
** Mastercard Inc said its offer window to buy payments firm Earthport Plc had lapsed, which potentially clears the way for rival Visa Inc to make a bid for the British company.
** The CEO of UK subprime lender Non-Standard Finance said he was still confident the group’s 1.3 billion pound ($1.7 billion) hostile takeover bid for bigger rival Provident Financial would succeed but declined to say whether it would increase its offer.
** India’s bankruptcy court approved global steel giant ArcelorMittal SA’s bid for debt-ridden Essar Steel, potentially ending months of court battles and opening the country’s steel industry to outsiders.
** Entegris and Versum Materials highlighted additional benefits from their planned all-share merger, while rival bidder Merck KGaA said it had brought in Goldman Sachs to help with its counter offer.
** German wholesaler Metro AG is aiming to sign a deal to sell its loss-making Real hypermarkets chain in April or May, Chief Executive Olaf Koch said.
** French tyre maker Michelin said it had bought an 88 percent stake in Indonesian peer company PT Multistrada Arah Sarana for $480 million, strengthening its presence in a fast-growing Asian market.
** J Sainsbury Plc’s new chairman Martin Scicluna will take up his role on Sunday, the company said, in the midst of its battle to salvage a $9.5 billion takeover of rival Asda and hold on to its position as Britain’s No.2 supermarket group.
** Potential suitors for a minority stake in German regional utility EWE AG, which sources say could be valued at up to 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion), have until later this month to express their interest, EWE said.
** Barrick Gold Corp is having “constructive” talks with rival Newmont Mining Corp about a possible joint venture in Nevada, Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow told the CNBC television network.
** Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank’s chief executives have resumed talks over a potential merger, Focus magazine reported.
** Nicaraguan lawmakers voted to authorize a $23 million government purchase of Bancorp, a financial institution that has been sanctioned by the United States for its links to Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA.
** British packaging company RPC Group has agreed to a higher takeover offer from plastics maker Berry Global Group Inc worth 3.34 billion pounds ($4.37 billion), and has ditched a lower bid from Apollo Global Management LLC.
** German industrial gases group Linde has agreed to sell its South Korean assets to local private equity firm IMM for 1.3 trillion won ($1.15 billion), two people familiar with the matter told Reuters. (Compiled by Debroop Roy and Bharath Manjesh in Bengaluru)