Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Three brief items

1. Santander Considers Floats

Yesterday's Financial Times, on p. 16, reports that the big Spain-headquartered bank Santander, which owns Sovereign Bancorp in the US, is considering IPOs in both the US and the UK for its operations in those two countries.

The bank was happy with the results of its IPO of its Brazilian subsidiary in October 2009. In general, Santander's subsidiaries are separately capitalized, and the bank has said that as a management philosophy it welcomes the extra scrutiny created by the minority stockholders who buy in through such an IPO.

2. IRS Mulling over Equity Swaps

In the US, the Internal Revenue Service has apparently become interested in the dispute over equity swaps, and their relation to disclosure thresholds. I've discussed this before in connection especially with the CSX case.

Here is Reuters on the tax implications and IRS deliberations.

3. Air Products & Chemicals

What is an "industrial gas" concern? I've been reading that an industrial gas company, Air Products & Chemicals (APD) has an unsolicited bid outstanding to buy a rival, Airgas Inc (ARG) and is ready to launch a proxy fight in support thereof. But the stories don't leave it clear just what these companies do.

Apparently, although APD in particular has a lot of lines of business, the name of the company refers to refinery hydrogen. Near as I understand it, refineries remove sulfur from crude oil, by saturating the fuel with hydrogen first, producing hydrogen sulfide, which can then be removed from the mix. ARG is also apparently involved in the liquefaction of natural gas.

The company, headquartered in Lehigh Valley, Pa., said that it is prepared to make "the appropriate divestitures to gain regulatory approval," of the merger with ARG.

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