Who's next as a merger frenzy takes off?

Dealmakers expect 2013 to be a big one for big deals. Here are some names that could become buyouts.

By Jonathan Berr Mar 20, 2013 12:35PM
Image: Handshake (© Corbis)The masters of the Wall Street universe are feeling very good.

According to The New York Times, a Brunswick Group survey of investment bankers and deal lawyers found that a whopping 97% expect more deals to be done in North America this year compared with 2012, and 82% of those surveyed expect more deals internationally. That's the highest level in the survey's six-year history.

The results aren't that surprising, though, given the stock market surge this year, the continued economic rebound and plentiful supply of low-cost capital.

So far in 2013, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) and 3G Capital have agreed to buy H.J. Heinz (HNZ) for $24.3 billion, the largest deal in the history of the food industry. Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners offered to buy Dell (Dell) for $24.4 billion (although shareholders including activist investor Carl Icahn have argued that the deal undervalues the company). And just today came word that American Realty Capital (ARCP) offered $5.74 billion for Cole Credit Property Trust II. 

That's only the start.

Plenty of deal speculation swirls around companies such as Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Yahoo (YHOO), which are eager to reinvigorate their moribund businesses. Best Buy (BBY) founder Richard Schulze's effort to take the consumer electronics retailer private flopped, but others may try. And if J.C. Penney (JCP) CEO Ron Johnson's much-derided turnaround plan fails, the venerable retailer may get swallowed up by a competitor.

A surge in dealmaking could help bolster the fortunes of struggling luxury retailers such as Tiffany (TIF) and Coach (COH) where the 1%-ers like to spend their bonuses. It's also good news for News Corp.'s (NWSA) Wall Street Journal, where bankers take out ads congratulating themselves on their latest triumphs. Whether Wall Street's rising tide will lift the boats of the middle class remains to be seen.

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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