M&A Weekly Recap: Chesapeake Energy Land Divesture, SodaStream Ripe for the Picking

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to the week’s top M&A news:

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The Glencore International (GLCNF.PK) – Xstrata Plc (XSRAY.PK) acquisition saga may yet be far from over, as Qatar Holdings says that it has not decided as to whether it will support Glencore’s $36 billion offer for Xstrata, even though the prospective buyer increased its offer last week to that amount. Qatar Holdings is a key Xstrata shareholder and does not feel any necessity to immediately decide, and might wait for a statement from the company’s board on September 24th, according to Reuters.

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Shares of WSB Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:WSB) are in the stratosphere mid-afternoon Tuesday, following its cash and stock acquisition of Old Line Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:OLBK) for $49 million. This purchase continues the unification of the community banking sector in Maryland. Thus far, the combined banks will hold assets of $1.2 billion.

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Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) must complete its purchase the remaining portion of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney from Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) at a date not later than June 1, 2015 at an implied valuation of $13.5 billion, according to Reuters. This price is apparently a win for Morgan, which bid $9 billion against Citi’s $22 billion offer, while a third party appraiser recently finished its evaluation. Part of the acquisition will be completed in the near term, but Morgan does have until June 2015 to purchase the final 35 percent from Citi at the same valuation.

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Although Chief Executive Eyal Waldman of Mellanox Technologies, Ltd. (NASDAQ:MLNX) has been approached several times by potential buyers, the firm prefers to remain independent. Waldman says that Mellanox has a “gentleman’s agreement” with its number one customer Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL), that it will not add to its 10 percent investment, whose value has increased quite a lot, and also claims Mellanox’s InfiniBand solutions won’t see any serious threat from competitors such as Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) for at least 3 years.

Liberty Media Corp. (NASDAQ:LMCA) inches its way towards control of Sirius XM Radio Inc. (NASDAQ:SIRI), as it has bought another 31 million shares at $2.49 each which takes its stake from 49.7 percent to 49.2 percent. The former still awaits permission from the Federal Communications Commission to take full control of Sirius, and based its Tuesday close at $2.50, Liberty only needs to spend another $50 million or so to top 50 percent.

TheStreet.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:TST) purchases The Deal, which is the owner of M&A news site The Deal Pipeline, for an unreported amount. The Deal claims 40,000 subscriptions, of which many are financial professionals, and generates more than 100 articles per day. TheStreet intends to add some of its content to The Deal, and also to cross-sell it to its existing customers and readers, but The Deal’s magazine will shut down.

BAE Systems (BAESY.PK) and Airbus (EADSY.PK) are in talks concerning a possible unification of their businesses, via the establishment of a dual listed company structure, through which the two firms would operate as one group but would be listed separately on their current exchanges. If the move tales place, BAE Systems shareholders would own 40 percent and EADS shareholders 60 percent respectively.

Newly released court documents show how The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE:BX), Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s (NYSE:GS) private equity arm Bain, along with other firms seem to have colluded on bids for companies they were acquiring in order keep prices lower. It is alleged that, during Bain’s $32.1 billion acquisition of the hospital giant HCA in 2006, bidding competitors agreed to “stand down” as part of an arrangement to divide up the purchases of other firms. These documents comprise a portion of a lawsuit against the companies for the actions.

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Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) will receive an additional $6.9 billion when proceeds of its current divestiture of the majority of its Permian assets along with other properties come through. One part of the proceeds will be used in repayment of $4 billion in term loans during the fourth quarter. Chief Executive Aubrey McClendon says that this move brings the year-to-date sales total to $11.6 billion, and he expects that his firm will reach its full-year goal of between $13 billion and $14 billion.

The General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) is mulling the divestiture of its 33 percent investment in Thailand’s Bank of Ayudhya, according to Bloomberg. With the bank having a market cap of $6.7 billion, GE’s holdings are worth about $2.2 billion and such a sale would be a portion of its strategy of shrinking the size of its GE Capital division. Some $3.9 billion worth its of assets have been sold thus far in 2012.

Chevron Corporation’s (NYSE:CVX) involvement in Chesapeake Energy Corporation’s (NYSE:CHK) $6.9 billion land divestiture in the Permian Basin did not come as a shock to Tudor Pickering, since the former’s footprint is there already, but the analyst thinks it “somewhat surprising” that Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) was in on the deal, as it has “not much, if any, Permian exposure currently.” However, Macquarie says that Shell’s tech enables it to be better positioned than its competitors to benefit from low domestic gas prices, and that the sale price is reasonable when its superior cash generation is considered.

Another impediment is in the way of MetLife, Inc.’s (NYSE:MET) intentions to divest its banking division to the General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), as regulators are still questioning GE’s plans for the business. On Tuesday the FDIC met again to discuss the case, but no action was taken. The transaction originated in December, and was to have been finalized by now.

European Aeronautics’s (EADSY.PK) proposed super-merger with BAE Systems (BAESY.PK) is not likely to be disallowed by United States antitrust regulators and the Defense Department, says Reuters, since the firms have few domestic overlaps, and BAE is a long-trusted defense contractor. However, the Financial Times says that such a merger would create a company worth $48 billion, and face quite a few regulatory issues in several countries.

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In a move that could be to keep Heineken Nv Adr (HINKY.PK) from purchasing Fraser & Neave’s 40 percent investment in Asia Pacific Breweries for $4.4 billion, the Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi bids S$9 billion, or $7.3 billion, to acquire the 70 percent of F&N that he doesn’t control. Meanwhile The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) might be watching the events with interest, as it is said to be mulling a bid for F&N’s beverages operations.

Chief Executive Denise Morrison of the Campbell Soup Company (NYSE:CPB) tells the Wall Street Journal that her company is thinking about making purchases, as part of an endeavor to push its baking and snacking unit into more international territories. The historic soup company is still formulating its worldwide strategy for the division, which includes working for more co-operation between its Arnott’s and Pepperidge Farm brands.

Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS) has divested a 60 percent investment in the United Kingdom student housing company University Partnerships Programme, to The Netherlands’ PGGM for a price estimated at £840 million. Reuters says that Barclays is now mulling the sale of the remaining 40 percent in UPP, as it seeks to take advantage of the strong investor demand for student accommodation.

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The board of Xstrata Plc (XSRAY.PK)(XSRAF.PK) is now expected to recommend Glencore International plc’s (GLCNF.PK) revised offer as early as next week, according to Reuters, even though it might contain certain qualification surrounding such matters as staff retention. At that point the board might insist upon guarantees from Glencore regarding key managers, or modifications might be made in Xstrata’s retention package for top executives.

The Carlyle Group (NYSE:CG) is acquiring 60 percent of Brazil’s biggest specialty furniture retailer, the family-owned Tok&Stok, for a price that was not reported. Carlyle has remained an active buyer in the country since establishing its South American Buyouts team back in 2008.

Shares of SodaStream International (NASDAQ:SODA) are higher Thursday due to fresh rumors that it might be a candidate for takeover. The usual speculation that Kraft Foods Inc. (NYSE:KFT), PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE:PEP), and The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) are the top candidates to grab the beverage machine manufacturer might be an understatement this time, as SodaStream is a worldwide target with a market cap that’s still under $1 billion. The list of suitors could thus be considerably longer, with a sleeper or two included.

Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKAM) has acquired FastSoft, which develops algorithms that boost file transfer speeds and page view loading times for sites and web applications. The buyer’s content delivery network is supported by proprietary routing algorithms, so FastSoft’s solutions should prove to be a natural fit. Akamai has recently said that it was watching for security and networking startups which could speed up its time-to-market.

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KEYW Holding (NASDAQ:KEYW) purchases privately-held Sensage for $18 million in cash and as much as $16.5 million in its own common stock. The latter supplies advanced security information and event management, along with event data warehousing software solutions to enterprise and government customers. $7.5 million of the stock and $3 million of the cash consideration depends upon Sensage meeting certain revenue targets for the second half of the current year. The purchase should be slightly accretive to fourth quarter results.

Belden Inc. (NYSE:BDC) divests its consumer electronics assets in China to Shenzhen Woer Heat-Shrinkable Material Co. for approximately $43 million, while it changes its focus on areas it views as strategically relevant in Asia. The sale should decrease its fiscal year 2013 revenue by between $100 million and $120 million with no appreciable impact on operating profit.

BAE Systems (BAESY.PK) might abandon its potential merger with European Aeronautic (EADSY.PK) unless the combined entity will be permitted to operate as a normal company, without the political interference that has plagued the latter, according to The Financial Times. However, both France and Germany control 22.5 percent of EADS, and under the merger their combined investments would fall to below 10 percent, with the only veto remaining to them would be to block hostile takeovers.

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Comments by the Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty caused shares of Nexen, Inc. (NYSE:NXY) to dip slightly Friday. Speaking of the firm’s proposed acquisition by Cnooc Limited (NYSE:CEO), Flaherty is now walking back reports that he had privately warned his colleagues that disallowing the deal could hurt investor confidence and also damage relations with China.

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