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Five Rumored Takeover Targets: Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK) and More

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Wall Street appears to have become swept up in yet another wave of merger mania. With companies such as H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ) and Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) getting takeover offers, and mergers like Office Depot Inc (NYSE:ODP)/OfficeMax Inc (NYSE:OMX), 2013 is shaping up to be a big year for corporate deals.

Trying to guess the next big deal is probably a futile endeavor. That said, here are five companies that have been rumored to be on the block in the past. Perhaps 2013 will finally be the year they are bought out.

Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK)Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) could be an attractive natural gas play
Given Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK)’s extensive natural gas resources, the company could be an attractive target for an energy giant. Since Chesapeake’s debt issues came to light last year, there have been a flurry of articles arguing that the company should be sold (including this May 2012 article from MarketWatch).

Because of the extensive debt burden, Chesapeake has been forced to sell off some of its assets. In addition, the debt may have been a contributing factor to CEO and founder Aubrey McClendon’s resignation.

McClendon will step down April 1, and with him out of the way, possible buyers might include Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), TOTAL S.A. (ADR) (NYSE:TOT), or BHP Billiton Limited (ADR) (NYSE:BHP).

Walter Energy, Inc. (NYSE:WLT) has long been seen as a cheap play on coal
Shares of Walter Energy, Inc. (NYSE:WLT) have spiked several times over the last few years, as periodic market chatter has placed the company on the takeover block. An October 2011 article from Investment U (citing various Bloomberg and London Times pieces) suggests a number of possible acquirers, including Anglo American plc (ADR) and Vale SA (ADR) (NYSE:VALE). A May 2012 piece in The Telegraph links the company to BHP Billiton.

Of course, over the past two years, Walter Energy shares have performed abysmally. Coal demand simply hasn’t been there, and shares have slumped over 70%. What might have been a “cheap” coal play in October 2011 has only gotten cheaper.

Joy Global Inc. (NYSE:JOY) has been linked to GE frequently in the past
Like Walter Energy, Joy Global Inc. (NYSE:JOY) has seen occasional trading sessions where shares surge on chatter of an imminent deal. But unlike Walter Energy, most of the rumors around Joy Global have tied the company to one buyer: General Electric Company (NYSE:GE).

GE has said it plans to build a mining equipment division through acquisitions, and Joy Global fits that profile perfectly. For its part, Joy Global hasn’t shied away from the rumor:  Joy’s CEO told The Business Journal in October that he would “do the right thing for our shareholders.”

Monster Beverage Corp (NASDAQ:MNST) would offer access to the growing energy drink market
Shares of Monster Beverage Corp (NASDAQ:MNST) shot up in April of 2012 after a Wall Street Journal article linked the company to The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) (a rumor Coke subsequently denied). Still, Monster might be a target for a consumer staples giant hoping to cash in on the growing energy drink business.

Monster surpassed market leader Red Bull in terms of total U.S. sales volume last year. Beverage giants Coke and Pepsi have tried to crack into the market, but have had little success.

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