(Takeover article updated with new buyout offer for CKE Restaurants.)
NEW YORK (
) -- Takeover speculation is heating up the market, as both private equity firms and cash-heavy companies appear ready to make some investments.
The availability of financing is, no doubt, improving, and the market is ripe for companies that are ready to return to a growth strategy to snag something at a cheap price.
As history shows, it is this type of market in which acquisitions make the most sense, says Joe Johnson, chair of Goodwin Procter's M&A/Corporate Governance Practice. Thus, it's no surprise that companies across sectors are being thrown into the spotlight as potential buyouts.
, for one, has been the center of takeover chatter since reports surfaced earlier this month that it hired some high-profile tech bankers, including Frank Quattrone and Goldman Sachs, to scope out potential suitors.
If Elevation Partners, Palm's biggest venture capital backer, has its way, the price tag for the deal could be at least $1 billion.
It has been reported that
has already walked away from a potential deal with Palm. RBC Capital Markets, for its part, is positing that
would make a good fit. Asian players like
, are also possible purchasers.
Still, Palm's stock was sinking on Monday on concerns that it may not be able to find a buyer. These worries were triggered on Friday, when a Securities and Exchange Commission filing revealed Michael Abbot, senior vice president of software and services, will leave the company on April 23.
may also be phasing out the sale of Palm devices in its stores, according to a C.L. King analyst.
RadioShack, itself, is also making headlines as a potential takeover target, and on Monday it was reported that J.P. Morgan was selected to facilitate a possible sale.
The electronics retailer has been struggling to remain afloat, as big-box discounters like
continue to steal market share.
has been pegged as a potential buyer of RadioShack, as well as private equity firms.
Elsewhere in the retail sector,
is another name spiking investors' interest in a potential buyout.
Needham analyst Sean McGowan says a takeover of the video game retailer is highly likely. It is cheap, generates a lot of cash and is a dominant player in the market, he says.
While fewer people will presumably go to the store in the coming years to buy video games, there is always a market for consoles and hardware, and GameStop could make a transition to the digital video game market. McGowan didn't name potential suitors, but says it really could be anyone's game considering the stock's upside potential and how cheap it is.
Restaurants have also received their fair share of private-equity attention.
, which owns Hardee's and Carl Jr.'s, received yet another buyout offer on Tuesday, which it said is better than previous bids.
While CKE didn't name its newest suitor, it did say its offer of $12.55 a share surpassed that of Thomas H. Lee Partners. The restaurant has until Saturday to accept this new offer.
CKE accepted a $928 million offer from private-equity firm Thomas H. Lee back in February, but had 40 days to seek higher bids. Under the terms of the deal, Thomas H. Lee would pay $11.05 a share and will assume $309 million of CKE's debt.
CKE said it notified Thomas H. Lee on Monday about the rival bid and that it plans to terminate their agreement as a result.
became talk of a potential takeover after rival
purchased New York-based drugstore Duane Reade in February.
And while Rite Aid has plenty of its own internal issues, it could be a strategic opportunity for retailers like Walgreen,
, or even
, says IBISWorld analyst Toon van Beeck.
On that note, which of those companies -- RadioShack, CKE Restaurants, Palm, GameStop or Rite Aid -- will most likely see a deal in 2010? Take our poll below to see what
thinks. And don't forget to leave a comment.
-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.
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