Takeover frenzy hits Wall Street

WALL STREET saw a flurry of take-over activity yesterday as companies sought to improve their global positions, highlighting increased optimism in the world's financial markets.

Medtronic, the world's leading makers of heart pacemakers, has taken over neurological device maker Sofamor Danek Group in a deal worth in excessive of $3bn.

The deal, to buy thecompany for $115 a share, has in a single swoop strengthened Medtronic's position in the neuro-surgical business and is the latest in a string of deals in the medical products industry this year.

Pfizer, famed for Viagra, sold its Schneider Worldwide to Boston Scientific Corporation for $2.1m and Johnson and Johnson acquired DePuy for $3.5bn.

The market was seen to support the Sofamor take-over as news of the deal saw shares in both companies rise and those in Sofamor moving upwards consistently throughout the day.

The software industry also received a much heralded boost when Houston based BMC Software said it was to acquire fellow independent software vendor Boole and Babbage in a stocks swap valued at $900m.

Combined, the companies will employ some 4,400 people in 26 countries and in the last 12 months combined revenues was $1.1bn. The deal is expected to conclude in the next few months, subject to stockholder and regulatory approval.

In the energy sector, PP&L Resources, which provides electricity across Eastern and Central Pennsylvania, revealed that it has agreed to buy 13 power stations from Montana Power for $1.5bn.

And in another major deal in the sector, CMS Energy Corporation, the parent of Michigan's largest utility Consumers Energy, said it plans to buy the natural gas pipeline, a liquefied natural gas terminal and other assets of the Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line Company from Duke Energy for $2.2bn.

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