McGraw-Hill: Investors Propose a Breakup

Activist investors are pushing for McGraw-Hill to split into four parts. Jana Partners and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which own a combined 5.2 percent of the company, told management that the New York-based company should separate the Standard & Poor’s ratings unit from the S&P index business. The investor group also wants to see the education division split off from the information and media business. McGraw-Hill says it is conducting a strategic portfolio review. Separately, S&P announced plans to replace President Deven Sharma with Citibank’s North America COO Douglas Peterson. McGraw-Hill sold Businessweek to Bloomberg LP in 2009.

Ford/Toyota: Hitching for Hybrids

Facing tightening U.S. rules on fuel efficiency, Ford and Toyota are teaming up to develop a hybrid powertrain for pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles. The two carmakers, which have not collaborated before, will focus on developing a rear-wheel-drive system for large vehicles that balances performance capabilities, such as towing capacity, with improved fuel economy. Toyota, maker of the Prius, is already the world’s largest hybrid car seller, while Ford’s F-Series pickup is the top-selling vehicle in the U.S.

Facebook: In a Buying Frame of Mind

Facebook aims to buy about 20 companies in 2011 to improve its site design, service reliability, and mobile features as it tries to stave off competition from Google and Twitter. This year the social network has already acquired 13 companies, mostly small startups with few employees. Those deals were designed to bring in new talent against the backdrop of Silicon Valley’s competitive recruiting environment. Facebook has been expanding its focus to mobile, which is how more than a third of users access the site.

SABMiller: Foster’s Is Playing Hard to Get

Australian brewer Foster’s is trying to fend off SABMiller’s $10 billion hostile takeover bid by returning $525 million to investors over the next year, potentially through a share buyback. Foster’s hopes investors will give it time to improve earnings. The brewer posted a loss of $93.5 million in the year that ended in June. Foster’s has refused to enter into negotiations with SABMiller over the bid, which it says is too low. CEO John Pollaers says the company is open to discussing a “sensible” offer from SABMiller.

Manchester United: Turning Asian Fans into Shareholders

Manchester United is planning to list its shares on Singapore’s exchange in September to sell up to a 30 percent stake of the British soccer club for $1 billion, three people with knowledge of the matter say. The club is seeking to capitalize on its popularity in Asia, which is home to more than half its fans. ManU also signed up DHL to sponsor the team’s training apparel in a deal worth $66 million and is closing in on an arrangement that will allow Malaysian snack maker Mamee-Double Decker to use the club’s logo, one of the people said.

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