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Vivendi Gets Disappointing Bids for Publishing Unit

Vivendi Universal (V) received lower-than-expected offers for its publishing unit. Three large bidding groups put in bids of less than $3 billion for Vivendi Universal Publishing, which includes Houghton-Mifflin as well as a number of French reference and educational publishers, less than original expectations for bids of more than $3.5 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. The disappointing bids come as the French conglomerate prepares for a possible battle for its Cegetel phone unit. Last week, Vodafone Group (VOD), which owns 15% of Cegetel, offered more than 13 billion ($12.64 billion) to buy out Vivendi and Cegetel's two other shareholders, BT Group PLC (BTY) and SBC Communications (SBC). (10/22)

PICO Holdings (PICO) inked a deal to sell its Sequoia Insurance Company unit. The final sale price will be determined after the closing, with a base price of $40 million, which is subject to adjustments. The sale is expected to close in the first quarter of 2003. (10/22)

Prudential Financial (PRU) and Wachovia (WB) are in joint-venture talks to merge their brokerage units, according to the Wall Street Journal. (10/21)

Toronto-based Sherritt Coal made an unsolicited offer for coal producer Fording (FDG) for about U.S. $1 billion. Sherritt bid 29 Canadian dollars (US$18.42) for each Fording share, a 12% premium to Friday's closing price. (10/21)

Dallas-based TXU (TXU) agreed to sell most of its failing British power businesses for around $2.1 billion in cash to the giant German energy company E.On AG (EON). (10/21)

Progress Software (PRGS) agreed to buy Excelon (EXLND) for $3.19 cash per share. (10/21)

King Pharmaceuticals (KG) agreed to buy Meridian Medical (MTEC) for $44.50 cash per share. (10/21)

Stericycle (SRCL) agreed to buy Scherer Healthcare (SCHR) for $8.57 per share. (10/21)

Epicor Software (EPIC) says it will to buy the core assets and operations of Clarus (CLRS) for $1 million in cash. (10/18)

Management of U.S. Timberlands LP (TIMBZ) says it will buy the company for $3.00 for each common unit. (10/17)

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