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Thomas & Betts Acquisition Could Spark More Deals

Stocks in this article: ABB TNB GE DNH DOV

Previous to the deal, Credit Suisse also highlighted that Cooper Industries was unlikely garner takeover interest because of its size. "In light of today's news, we reiterate this view, and note that other potential takeout targets Hubbell Corp., Littelfuse, Acuity Brands are likely to remain independent now that Thomas & Betts is now set to be acquired," writes Credit Suisse analyst Julian Mitchell in a Monday note.

Nevertheless, the engineering sector didn't have a big M&A wave even as company valuations were cut during the recession because big players used their capital with discipline, leading to no post-crisis megadeals as of yet. It means that there are plenty of potential growth hungry buyers and attractively priced takeover candidates, according to Credit Suisse.

General Electric (GE), Dover Corporation (DOV) and Danaher Corporation (DHR) are potential acquirers in the electrical engineering space according to Mitchell because of their muted deals stance in the second half of 2011. In Feb. 2011, Danaher bought Beckman Coulter for $5.87 billion, but may now be able to absorb a new deal.

"We think that Invensys (ISYS) (Neutral) would be a good fit with GE, given the latter's increased focus on process automation and Invensys' top 5 global installed market share in DCS automation," writes Mitchell.

In General Electric's fourth quarter earnings, the company indicated that it may cut deals as it considers a 2012 dividend increase. Acquisitions would be a shift from the company's post-crisis focus on selling assets. TheStreet nominated GE as one of the 5 biggest sellers during the financial crisis as it raised billions to address a liquidity squeeze and reshape its balance sheet.

Mitchell of Credit Suisse also notes that industrial products conglomerate SPW Corp. (SPX), which recently sold its auto's aftermarket diagnostics division, could enter the fray as a buyer or seller.

"Given the general health of corporate balance sheets and the general outlook for muted global demand in developed markets, we would not be surprised if potential buyout stories like these become more common," writes KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Anthony Kure in a Jan. 30 note.

To be seen is what deals emerge, but expect more similar acquisitions by European conglomerates and growth hungry U.S. giants, as they exit the deals sideline.

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York

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