Despite the market’s lackluster reaction, there were a number of notable acquisitions today. Indeed, a few industry leaders, including Southwest Airlines (LUV), Unilever (UL), and Wal-Mart (WMT - Free Analyst Report), look to fuel growth and expand their platforms through strategic purchases.
In the skies, discount airline AirTran Holdings (AAI) has agreed to be acquired by the largest low-fare carrier Southwest Airlines in a transaction currently valued at about $1.4 billion. Including the assumption of AirTran's existing debt and capitalized aircraft operating leases, the aggregate value is approximately $3.4 billion.
Under the deal, AirTran stockholders would receive $3.75 in cash and 0.321 of a LUV share per AAI share held. The total $7.69-a-share offer represents a 69% premium over the closing price of AAI stock prior to the announcement.
AirTran's board was quick to unanimously accept the Southwest bid, leaving it now up for shareholder and regulatory approvals.
The acquisition allows Southwest to access the Atlanta market, the largest domestic market the company doesn't already serve. The deal also enables Southwest to expand its presence at major U.S. airports, including New York's LaGuardia and Boston's Logan airport.
Elsewhere, hair and skin care products manufacturer Alberto-Culver (ACV) has received a $3.7 billion buyout offer from packaged goods giant Unilever. The all-cash deal is valued at $37.50 per ACV share, which represents a 19% premium to the stock's prior closing price and an 18% premium to its all-time highest closing price.
The transaction, which is still subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals, would allow Alberto's brands to expand their international presence, as the company lacked penetration in many large global markets.
As for Unilever, the transaction would boost the company's personal care operations to over 30% of its total sales, while providing a number of strong hair care brands to complement its current lineup. Upon the deal's completion, Unilever would be the world's leading company in hair conditioning, second-largest in shampoo, and third in styling products.
Wal-Mart, meantime, took its acquisition thirst to South Africa, offering to purchase retailer Massmart Holdings for $4.25 billion. The world’s largest retailer continues to expand its global position, as international operations currently make up about one-quarter of the company’s total revenues.
The pending acquisition would enable Wal-Mart to gain a solid footing on the continent, as Massmart is Africa’s third-largest distributor of consumer goods. Massmart currently operates nearly 300 stores in over a dozen countries.
Massmart shares did trade above the offer price, hinting that a higher offer may be anticipated. For now though, Wal-Mart must wait for the necessary approvals.
Finally, on a much smaller note, NightHawk Radiology (NHWK) stock nearly doubled on news that the provider of radiology services has agreed to be acquired by Virtual Radiologic, a national radiology practice.
As per the terms of the deal, Virtual Radiologic would pay $6.50 a share in cash for each NightHawk share, or a total of $170 million. The buyout offer represents a premium of 100% over NHWK stock's preannouncement price of $3.25 a share.