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A DD scoop to start: Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, Germany’s Axel Springer and the world’s largest rating agencies are among the list of companies set to enter a bidding war for Acuris, the owner of Mergermarket, as the auction gets under way this week. A number of companies have thrown their hat into the ring and while it’s too early to tell which group is in pole position, DD will keep you posted. Now back to the show . . .

It may be in a new spot. Its longtime maître’d may have been ousted. But New York’s Four Seasons Restaurant still manages to be the destination where power brokers come to broker deals.

The latest example came last Tuesday when Barrick Gold’s chief executive Mark Bristow stopped by to break bread with Newmont Mining boss Gary Goldberg.

This was no ordinary gathering. The two gold mining executives were locked in a nasty war of words with the future of the industry at stake. Days earlier, Barrick launched a hostile $18bn, nil-premium, all-share bid to buy Newmont. The deal would create the world’s largest gold producer.

Newmont rejected the bid. It countered with a proposal to form a joint venture in Nevada where the companies have assets that sit side by side. The prospect of combining their Nevada holdings hold out the possibility of some of the easiest synergies to unlock in the mining business, if they can get beyond two decades of rivalry and flirtation over a deal.

The JV offer provided enough cover for Bristow, a tough-talking, big game huntin’ South African, to huddle with Goldberg, an American who graduated from Rio Tinto’s Top Gun mining school — a sort of miner’s miner — over dinner.

Newmont said the talks were constructive, but DD was sceptical. Shareholders wanted the two sides to resolve matters, and the tough talk seemed personal and the egos involved massive. Those aren’t the sort of conditions that lead to a healthy, positive outcome. Get smart on the background and the characters by reading last Friday’s DD briefing.

Yet on Monday, we learnt just how constructive the talks were. The two companies unveiled a joint venture that allowed both sides to walk away claiming victory.

Barrick will take a 61.5 per cent stake in a joint venture company, with Newmont holding the remainder. As a standalone business, it’ll be the world’s biggest producer of gold with 4.1m ounces of production a year.

Bristow will have the luxury of running the combined mine, while Goldberg gets to cement his planned $10bn takeover of Goldcorp, which will make Newmont the biggest gold company in the world.

Happy ending, right? Now the two sides have to prove that they can actually work together. The titanic egos were on show as Bristow and Goldberg tried to claim credit for the breakthrough and argue that they got the better end of the transaction. Scratch beneath the surface of this deal and a number of thorny issues remain.

That made DD think of this valedictory piece by our outgoing business editor Sarah Gordon, which is a drop everything, print out and keep must read, if you haven’t already.

Sarah talks about her two decades writing about business for the FT and the egomaniacs that manage to convince themselves they’re value-creating gurus.

The good news for Barrick and Newmont shareholders is that no money is changing hands; no stock is being issued for their JV deal.

Has Tencent become China’s version of the Vision Fund?

China’s internet and gaming giant Tencent has stakes in more than 700 companies across the world and holds board seats on more than 400 of them. About 30-40 per cent of its investments are outside China. The value of its portfolio is estimated at about $70bn — approaching the size of SoftBank’s far higher-profile Vision Fund.

In just three years, Tencent has become one of China’s top overseas investors. Read more at the FT here.

“Many people asked us if we are going to reduce our level of investments this year,” said Martin Lau, Tencent’s president, at a recent investor day. “I tell everyone right now. We will not do this.”

But some venture capital insiders are starting to question Tencent’s endgame: is it building a massive ecosystem across its investments, or have its investment banker leaders gone too far?

Companies in China often welcome the investment as a way to grab rapid market share. Tencent offers them the chance to reach more than a billion users. To achieve scale, they need either the Shenzhen-based company or its eastern Chinese rival Alibaba, especially in areas such as ecommerce. “It’s almost impossible to succeed in China retail without Alibaba or Tencent,” said James Root, a Hong Kong-based partner at Bain & Co.

In this way Tencent is stitching together what appears to be a massive ecosystem of companies, services and technologies. By taking in investment from the company you become part of that universe, or so the argument goes.

Some observers, though, are questioning how concerted the Tencent ecosystem really is, and have acknowledged that it is beginning to look like the work of investment bankers gone wild. Before joining Tencent, Lau was an M&A banker at Goldman Sachs, and James Mitchell, his chief strategy officer, worked as an equity analyst at the US bank.

“When you put a basketball player in the room, you know what they’re going to do,” shrugged one venture capital investor. “If you hire Goldman Sachs bankers, you know what they are going to do.”

At this point, some of the same criticisms aimed at the Vision Fund — reckless levels of investment that’ll be hard to gain returns on — can be applied to Tencent.

Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank merger: definitely, maybe

Last week we introduced you to the key players deciding the future of Germany’s embattled Deutsche Bank (in case you need a refresh click here). Over the weekend we discovered that Christian Sewing, the chief executive of the once mighty bank, has dropped his opposition to considering a merger with domestic lender rival Commerzbank. Below are a few key charts giving us a better picture of what’s driving these two together.

It’s a matter of size: both are lagging behind the rest in terms of price-to-book value as well return on equity.

Deutsche Bank has underperformed the rest of the industry, driven by a wave of bad news.

Revenues have been on a persistent decline.

And costs are higher than at other European rivals.

Interested in reading more?

We have a deep dive looking at the how we got here; a new article on how regulators are concerned that Deutsche lacks the “ruthless brutality” to execute a successful merger, a Lex column analysing the merits of a deal and an FT editorial board piece explaining why the deal might go against EU bail-in rules.

Job moves

  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch has appointed James Robertson and Peter Luck as co-heads of UK investment banking in London. Robertson is joining the bank from UBS while Luck has been building out Bank of America’s corporate broking franchise in Emea since joining in 2012.

  • Takumi Shibata is stepping down as president and chief executive of Nikko Asset Management after becoming embroiled in a US lawsuit over incentives. It’s Shibata’s second high-profile resignation after leaving his role as chief operating officer of Nomura Holdings in 2012 in the wake of an insider trading scandal. More here.

  • Jan Stahlberg, a co-founder of EQT and veteran of Europe’s private equity industry, has left Scandinavia’s biggest private equity group to set up his own fund. Stahlberg has raised €300m-€500m from the bank Nordea to pursue so-called impact investing and is expected to attract other institutional investors. More here.

  • Loek van den Boog is returning to his role as special adviser to General Atlantic 15 years after he left the private equity firm. The former chairman of Mendix and Myriad supported the group as a special adviser for eight years between 1996 and 2004.

  • Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe has hired Robyn Helmlinger as a partner in the law firm’s public finance group. Helmlinger, who will be based in San Francisco, joins the firm from Squire Patton Boggs where she led their healthcare finance initiative.

  • RBC has hired the former chief executive of BNY Mellon Markets, Michelle Neal, to head up its US fixed income business. Neal will be responsible for expanding the bank’s fixed-income business and will report to Jonathan Hunter, the global head of fixed income.

  • Katten Muchin Rosenman has hired Michelle Gyves as a partner in its private equity practice. Gyves was previously an associate at Proskauer Rose in New York.

  • Derek Zaba has left his role as head of contested situations at PJT Camberview, to join law firm Sidley Austin in the summer as a partner and co-head of its activism defence practice, Reuters reports.

Smart reads

Bond king Bill Gross opens up to the FT’s Robin Wigglesworth about the good, the bad and the ugly including his epic rise and subsequent defenestration at Pimco, failing in the Navy, his Asperger’s diagnosis and a nasty (smelling) divorce. (FT)

Aping activists Wellington Management’s public denunciation of the $90bn merger between Bristol-Myers Squibb and Celgene could prove a turning point for stockpicking firms as they struggle to compete with cheaper passive investment strategies, reports DD’s James Fontanella-Khan. (FT)

Fashion victim Not even the return of LK Bennett’s founder could save the struggling fashion retailer that popularised the kitten heel as it grappled with high rents, high prices and low customer demand. (FT)

Breaking the dress code When Goldman Sachs sneezes, Wall Street catches a cold. The FT’s Robert Armstrong captures Wall Street’s reaction to a dressed down Goldman Sachs. (FT)

News round-up

Nvidia to acquire Israeli chipmaker Mellanox for $6.9bn (FT)

OneSavings/CCFS: buy-to-sweat (FT)

Advent drops bid for Italian credit manager Cerved (FT)

Ghosn seeks court permission to attend Nissan board meeting (FT)

Newcrest shrugs off impact of consolidation in gold industry (FT)

Railroad owner Genesee & Wyoming is exploring a stake sale (BBG)

UK accounting watchdog to be replaced by stronger regulator (FT)

HNA/Blackstone: flash dance (FT)

US financiers consider selling stake in Crystal Palace football club (FT)

Interserve’s banks line up pre-pack administration (FT)

Boeing shares in worst fall since 2001 after Ethiopian crash (FT)

Southwest shares knocked by Ethiopian Airlines crash fallout (FT)

Ryanair and KT face stock turmoil over removal from indices (FT)

Plastic packager RPC agrees to higher £3.3bn bid from Berry (FT)

Elliott wins ISS support for board shake-up at Hyundai Motor (BBG)

Due Diligence is written by Arash MassoudiJavier Espinoza and Robert Smith in London, James Fontanella-KhanOrtenca Aliaj, Sujeet IndapEric PlattJennifer Bissell-LinskLindsay Fortado and Mark Vandevelde in New York, and Don Weinland in Hong Kong.

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