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Mergers and Acquisitions Weekly: New York Times Thinning, MetLife Offloads on GE

Energy company Endeavor will acquire ConocoPhillips’ interest in 3 Central North Sea oil fields for $330 million. The deal will “significantly” enhance Endeavor’s current two United Kingdom-based projects planned to launch in 2012, the company says.

Following a market cap of $170.5 million at Friday’s close, Westmoreland Coal will purchase a Wyoming coal mine boasting 118 million tons of reserves for $74 million in cash and and additional $118 million in assumed liabilities from Chevron . Westmoreland aims to finish the deal by the end of 2011.

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While not revealing the price, MetLife has announced a planned sale of the majority of the depository business of MetLife Bank to GE Capital Financial .

Ventas will purchase Cogdell Spencer for $760 to $770 million, or $4.25/share in cash. This is 8% higher than Cogdell’s Friday price at close.

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In a move to get Quicksilver Resources’ to market, the company will form a JV with KKR to serve Western Canada with midstream natural gas. Quicksilver will receive from KKR $125 million in exchange for a 50% stake in the JV. The JV will employ Quicksilver’s facilities.

The acquisition of Parlux Fragrances by Perfumania has not made investors happy. Both companies shares have fallen since the deal’s announcement: Parlux is now only $6.22/share, far less than its $7.91-$8.55/share valuation in the deal based on Thursday’s close.

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The New York Times said yesterday that it will sell its Regional Media Group to privately-owned Halifax Media Holdings for $143 million. After the announcement, NYT stock went up 1.7%  after hours. Regional Media Group owns 16 small regional newspapers including he News Chief in Winter Haven, Fla. and The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The sale looks to close in Q1 2012.

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Harleysville numbers plummet after the insurance company turns away a takeover offer competing with an offer it took in September from Nationwide. The new deal provided $250 million for certain policy holders, who would not receive a payout from Nationwide. The disclosure “could add to the challenges already raised against the merger,” the Philadelphia Inquirer speculates.

In a deal with Fidelity National Financial , WT Holdings will receive 85% interest in FNF’s personal lines business for $119 million. Acquisitions include Fidelity National Insurance Company, Fidelity National Property and Casualty Insurance Company and FNIS Insurance Services.

In an attempt to tap into the South Korean market, Berkshire Hathaway’s General Re has his eye on Tong Yang Life Insurance. Tong Yang majority stakeholder Vogo Fund happens to want to sell his 60.7% share ( worth $808.7 millon), and reports say General Re has signed a confidentiality agreement to participate in the deal.

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Global M&A fell to its lowest level in more than a year this quarter and it is down 16% from the previous quarter to $457.1 billion. A recovery for M&A in 2012 isn’t looking good, as volatile stock markets are weakening confidence at cash-plentiful companies. The Eurozone’s debt crisis and tightening credit markets are also pushing the companies, that otherwise would have invested, away from major purchases.

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Carlyle and Blackstone are in separate talks to buy a significant stake in Reliance Communication’s tower unit. Reportedly Reliance has been valued at around $4 billion. A deal isn’t likely until February or March, due to many question left unanswered.

ACI Worldwide says it will extend its offer for S1 again. The expiration date of the offer for shares of the e-commerce firm will now be January 30, 2012.

Lowe’s says it grabbed up privately held ATG Stores for an undisclosed amount. ATG will remain a wholly owned subsidiary and maintain separate branding for its home improvement and lifestyle products that are offered online says Lowes.

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