Hulu Leads Parade Of Billion-Dollar Deals

Multi-billion dollar deal activity is percolating through a variety of sectors, from high-profile Internet and data-processing companies to a stolid automotive supplier and a sophisticated money manager, according to sister news service Reuters.

Online video site Hulu has been approached by a potential buyer and is weighing whether to sell itself, according to a person familiar with the matter. Hulu is jointly owned by News Corp., Walt Disney Co., Comcast Corp.’s NBC Universal and buyout firm Providence Equity Partners. The acquisition approach has not been made by any of the current equity holders, the person said. The buyer is expected to be either a strategic buyer or private equity. No decision has been made about whether the board is prepared to sell the company or not.

Last year, Hulu had been planning to raise $200 million to $300 million in a public offering that would have valued the company at about $2 billion. But the company backed out of the plan in favor of a focus on new subscription models. A Hulu representative was not immediately available.

Shares of DST Systems Inc. surged nearly 22 percent the day after Reuters reported the diversified data processing company had received several buyout overtures from private equity firms in recent months. DST got the interest from firms including one led by activist investor Russell Glass. Glass, founder and head of New York investment firm RDG Capital, told Reuters he had teamed up with a private equity firm and approached DST management within the last 30 days to talk about a buyout of the company in the mid-$60s per share range.

Glass said he was rebuffed by DST management on grounds that the company did not want to sell while it is grossly undervalued. A $65-per-share bid would value DST at about $3 billion, or a 35 percent premium to its closing price of $48.31 on the day before the bid was disclosed. But in 2007, the stock traded at around $83 per share.

TI Automotive has hired Deutsche Bank and Lazard Ltd to explore strategic alternatives for the company, including a potential sale or initial public offering, people familiar with the matter said. TI Automotive, which makes fuel tanks as well as braking and powertrain components for cars and trucks, has about $2.5 billion in estimated revenues and could be valued at around $1.25 billion in the event of a sale, these people said.

While it is unclear if a decision has been made on which path TI Automotive will pursue, the auto parts supplier has been in discussions with potentially interested buyers, one of the people said. The potential sale comes after the company, which is headquartered in Auburn Hills, Mich., but chartered in Britain, swapped most of its debt to equity and slashed costs under the British equivalent of bankruptcy during the recession.

K2 Advisors has had initial discussions with private-equity firm Carlyle Group and other possible buyers about a potential sale, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The firm, which oversees close to $10 billion of hedge-fund investments, has made confidential information about its businesses available in the talks, the business daily reported. The Stamford, Conn.-based K2 and Carlyle were not immediately available for comment outside regular business hours.

K2, which has managed to grow its assets under management even as other firms have struggled, is an attractive buyout target for companies looking to increase the assets under their control or looking to diversify their businesses.

(Yinka Adegoke is a correspondent for Reuters in New York; additional reporting by Nadia Damouni, Soyoung Kim, Michael Erman and Jochelle Mendonca.)