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Thomson looking to buy Reuters

Microsoft has sights on Yahoo

NEW YORK — After a cool few months, the world of deals and acquisitions is heating up.

On Friday, Reuters appeared close to accepting an unspecified bid from financial-news provider and publisher Thomson. The Canadian media concern was looking to buy its larger rival in the business of real-time financial news.

Separately, several reports suggested Microsoft was making new overtures for Yahoo, helping to drive up Yahoo’s stock 10%. Other reports later in the day said that acquisition talks had stopped and that no new discussions were planned.

Thomson has already been a new-media success story, having transformed itself from a print entity to a primarily digital information biz over the last decade. If its bid for Reuters is successful, it would create a financial-news entity roughly as big as market leader Bloomberg.

But there may be snags to the deal.

Reuters shares rose 27% on the news Friday, giving the company a market cap of nearly $16 billion, which could be more than Thomson is willing to pay. (The company would have to pay at least as much as Reuters was worth for shareholders to accept the bid.)

And the deal must be approved by an independent unit called the Reuters Founder Share Company, which values news integrity over dollar amounts.

Wall Street watchers had recently noted a lull in deal activity among media and entertainment firms, with congloms focused more on launching–and sometimes litigating against–new digital platforms.

But news caps a frenetic week of bidding, in which a $5 billion offer from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. for Dow Jones was turned down by the family that runs the company, and the Dolan family appeared to successfully purchase Cablevision for $10.6 billion.

It was unclear if the Thomson bid was sparked by the News Corp. offer for Reuters rival Dow Jones. But the offer could prompt Bloomberg to enter the race for DJ; earlier, the company had said it wasn’t interested.

Like the Cablevision deal — in which the sale of two regional sports nets to Comcast Corp. helped give the Dolans the cash — a separate sale may fuel the Reuters purchase. Thomson has been making plans to sell its book division for as much as $5 billion.

Some experts also note a surplus of cash from new media revenue that could be used toward acquisitions.

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