- ConAgra Foods ( CAG), maker of Chef Boyardee, announces a $5 billion deal to buy private-label food maker Ralcorp Holdings. Within hours, Ralcorp shares rise 26% to $88.80. IntercontinentalExchange ( ICE) offers to buy NYSE Euronext, owner of the iconic stock exchange on Wall Street, for $8 billion. Premium to NYSE shareholders: 43%. Mining giant Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold ( FCX) says it is buying oil and natural gas explorer Plains Exploration & Production for $17 billion, handing Plains shareholders a 44% premium.
The deals follow other signs that confidence is returning. So far this year, initial public offerings of stocks have raised the most cash in two decades; small investors are putting money into U.S. stock mutual funds at the fastest pace in five years; and professional investors are borrowing more to finance their trades because they are not as fearful of losing money. The last time so many companies paired off, in 2006 and 2007, stocks were surging and investors were pocketing big gains on takeover news. Now a few lucky investors are finding they're reliving the boom years. Here are some recent deals raining riches on shareholders, according to Dealogic, a data provider: