Quaker Oats is reportedly in serious discussions about being acquired by either Coca-Cola or Danone, the French processed-foods giant, just two weeks after rejecting a proposal valued at about $14 billion from Pepsi. Sources familiar with the situation said Coca-Cola appeared to be the favored buyer, since it is offering about $15 billion. Chicago-based Quaker Oats is perhaps most attractive because of Gatorade, which controls more than 80 percent of the US sports-beverage market. But that could raise antitrust concerns in the event that Coca-Cola, which sells a Gatorade rival, Powerade, tries to make a deal. Industry experts have said another bid is possible by Pepsi and that still others, such as Swiss food/beverage conglomerate Nestle, could enter the competition.
Majority interest in Equant, operator of the world's largest
data communications network, will be acquired by France Telecom, the companies announced. The complex deal calls for France Telecom first to buy 35 percent of the stock of Equant's largest shareholder for $2.9 billion, then to sell the corporate data services business of its Global One subsidiary to Equant, and finally to invest $1 billion in the new Equant/Global One partnership. Amsterdam-based Equant serves clients in 220 countries, among them European aircraft giant Airbus Industrie.
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