News in brief

• The first deal of the year to be postponed turned out to be Outremer Telecom, which put its IPO plans on hold last week just as the company was about to begin roadshows in Paris and release price guidance. Lead managers Lazard-Natixis and SG remained tight-lipped as to the reasons behind the delay, but the deal is expected to materialise at a later date.

• Shares in sugar producer Tate & Lyle have been in a flux over the last fortnight following speculation that a £10.00 per share might be in the offing from an unnamed private equity group.

• The European Commission has cleared the proposed €1.2bn acquisition by Advent International and the Carlyle Group of Bayer’s metal powders and speciality chemicals unit, HC Starck. The deal was examined under the EU’s “simplified” merger review procedure for cases that the EC believes do not pose competition concerns. Bayer said late in November that the sale of HC Starck to the private equity consortium would help finance its takeover of drug maker Schering. It is understood that Advent and Carlyle will continue to develop the HC Starck business, with the aim of positioning the company for an initial public offering in three to five years.

ICM Computer Group, a software and computer services company, has seen its shares soar after confirming that it could undergo a management buyout. The company is continuing discussions with an unnamed party from December 2006 but now it has also given directors including chief executive Stephen Wainwright and finance director Craig Fairey permission to explore an MBO.

Pearson, the publisher of the Financial Times, is at the centre of £7bn (US$13.8bn) buyout rumours. Market speculation suggests that the company is currently being targeted by private equity house KKR. Some reports have suggested that a private equity buyer would sell off Pearson’s Financial Times and Penguin Books divisions following a buyout.

• Gerry Ford’s bid to take Caffe Nero, the coffee shop chain he founded, private has succeeded after the entrepreneur’s bidding vehicle said it had gained more than 90% acceptances. That means the offer, valuing Caffe Nero at £225m (US$344m), has gone unconditional. Rome Bidco said that by 3pm on January 18 investors speaking for 51.8% of the share capital had accepted the 270p a share cash offer. Rome Bidco had already received 23.1% irrevocable undertakings to accept the offer and together with the bidding party’s holding, led by Ford, 94.6% acceptances had been reached. Caffe Nero plans to delist from the stock exchange on February 16. PricewaterhouseCoopers advised Caffe Nero on the deal. Citigroup performed the same role for Rome Bidco.