(Adds Linde, Centaur Gaming LLC, Avantor, Sanofi, SBM Holdings; Updates BHP Billiton Ltd, DX Group)
May 5 (Reuters) - The following bids, mergers, acquisitions and disposals were reported by 1930 GMT on Friday:
** Linde Chairman Wolfgang Reitzle has defended his plan for a $70 billion merger with U.S. rival Praxair , telling a German newspaper it was a good deal for workers and investors.
** Centaur Gaming LLC, a privately owned U.S. casino and horse racing company, is exploring a sale that could value it at more than $1 billion, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.
** Avantor, owned by private equity firm New Mountain Capital, will buy VWR Corp for about $4.38 billion, creating a laboratory equipment giant supplying everything from test tubes to microscopes to the healthcare and technology industries.
** Sanofi has given up on the possibility of selling its chemical unit Cepia, a spokeswoman with the French drugmaker said.
** Mauritius’ SBM Holdings is bidding to buy a stake in Kenya’s Chase Bank, SBM’s chairman said, which will give it greater presence in the East African economy after acquiring Fidelity Bank last year.
** ChemChina has won more than enough support from Syngenta AG shareholders to clinch its $43 billion takeover of the Swiss pesticides and seeds group, the two companies said.
** Elliott Advisors, the Akzo Nobel shareholder that has been pushing for the company to enter takeover talks with U.S. rival PPG Industries, said Akzo will lose up to 6,400 jobs under the independence plan it has put forward as an alternative.
** A second BHP Billiton Ltd, shareholder has made a public push for changes at the world’s largest miner, with Sydney-based Tribeca Investment Partners pressing the company to sell its U.S. shale assets and overhaul its board.
** Pearson, the global education company battling a downturn in its biggest markets, said it would launch another cost cutting drive and consider selling its U.S. school publishing business in the latest attempt to restructure.
** Banca Popolare di Vicenza will pocket 21.3 million euros ($23 million) from the sale of a stake in Italian packaging company IMA, the lender said.
** The sale of two Rio Tinto, coking coal mines in Australia is attracting scores of interested buyers as private equity and public companies compete for a foothold in one of the year’s hottest commodities, four sources familiar with the matter said.
** The Czech anti-monopoly office has approved a request by China’s CEFC to raise its stake in Czech company J&T Finance Group, CTK news agency reported.
** The biggest investor in UK mail delivery firm DX Group , Gatemore Capital Management, ratcheted up its opposition to a proposed reverse takeover of John Menzies’ distribution arm, saying it “grossly undervalued” the firm.
** Saxo Bank co-founder Lars Seier Christensen has sold his 25.71 percent stake in the online trading platform provider to Geely International Hong Kong, a subsidiary of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co, the unlisted Danish firm said.
** Warren Buffett said he has sold about one-third of Berkshire Hathaway Inc’s big stake in IBM Corp, CNBC reported on Thursday, reducing a bet by the famed investor that surprised many and which so far has yet to prove successful. (Compiled by John Benny and Akankshita Mukhopadhyay in Bengaluru)