News briefs, July 9, 2007

Blackstone pays $26B for Hilton Hotels

Just when many were predicting that the mega-deal has perhaps run its course, The Blackstone Group announced last week that it has agreed to pay $26 billion in cash for Hilton Hotels. The deal is expected to close by the fourth quarter, according to a prepared statement from Hilton Hotels. In announcing the acquisition, Blackstone, which last month launched a $4 billion IPO, is making its largest acquisition since the firm bought Equity Office Properties Trust, the nation’s largest owner of office space, earlier this year. The Hilton Hotels deal also marks its largest acquisition in the United States since going public late last month.

Och-Ziff files IPO

Another hedge fund firm is eyeing the public markets as Och-Ziff Capital Management Group has filed to raise as much as $2 billion in its IPO. The proposed IPO comes about five months after Fortress Investment Group became the first hedge fund nationwide to debut on a public exchange. PE investors should take note because Och-Ziff, which manages more than $26 billion in assets, also invests in the occasional early stage deal.

BCE sale on horizon?

The battle for BCE, Canada’s largest telephone company, looks to be drawing to a close following the approval of a $48.5 billion bid from a consortium that includes Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, Teachers Private Capital, Providence Equity Partners and Madison Dearborn. A report from Reuters last week, however, seems to suggest that it might not be over as rival bidders consider their options. Telus, Canada’s second largest telephone company, has reportedly re-entered the fray, and Cerberus Capital Management is said to be considering its options.

CVC bags Samsonite

Samsonite Corp.

has agreed to be acquired by funds managed and advised by CVC Capital Partners, a London-based private equity firm, for $1.7 billion. The deal, which has already been OK’d by the Samsonite board and shareholders, is expected to close in the fourth quarter this year. Boston-based Bain Capital Partners and other investors collectively own about 85% of the Mansfield, Mass.-based luggage manufacturer.

The acquisition is the first that CVC has made of a U.S.-based company, as the firm looks to expand in the American market. The firm had previously said that there’s a growing competition from U.S. buyout firms for deal activity in Europe. CVC opened a New York office in March.