The market crash has created a slew of brand-new buyout opportunities. Some great companies have seen their stocks dropping to the seafloor, ready to be picked up for pennies on the dollar by investors and corporate raiders alike. But times have changed for the buyers, too: Loans are harder to come by, so they can't always find the necessary credit to finalize the deal.

Take Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS), for example. Last year, the company launched a campaign to buy rival video game maker Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ:TTWO) for $2 billion in cash. Some would come from EA's cash-rich balance sheet, and the rest from fresh debt offerings. Well, the deal ultimately fell through, and the credit lines never materialized. If EA still feels hungry, a stock-swap deal would make more sense than the old all-cash option.

That's in spite of EA's miserable stock performance lately. The stock dropped a heart-stopping 60% over the past year -- far worse than the S&P 500 average of 40%.

Let's pretend that EA wanted to offer a $1 billion bid this time, which would be a roughly 45% buyout premium over Take-Two's current $688 million market cap. In pure cash, that's a far less generous bid than the one that was repeatedly rejected last year. But could EA afford even that lowball offer?

EA's $2.26 billion of cash equivalents may look like enough to buy out Take-Two, but some of that might be locked up or otherwise inaccessible. And every company needs to keep some cash on hand, just to run the day-to-day business.

Now imagine a 100% stock-swap deal instead. Take-Two's owners would receive $1 billion's worth of severely depressed EA shares. Indirectly, it's the current investors who pay in share dilution. EA gets to keep all its cash in the bank. Since EA is a much larger entity than Take-Two, this structure – or a cash-plus-stock hybrid – could make deals work that would otherwise be all but impossible.

And EA isn't alone. These firms have also dropped harder than the market at large, but could still go on a share-based spending spree to supplement their decent cash positions:


1-Year Return

Net Cash

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM)


$1.7 billion


Motorola (NYSE:MOT)


$2.8 billion


Nokia (NYSE:NOK)


$3.5 billion




$2.4 billion


Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN)


$2.5 billion


Data from Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor’s.

Each of these tech stalwarts could make a grab for smaller rivals with cash, stock, or some combination of the two. Heck, either RIM or Nokia could take out Motorola with a well-timed all-stock offer.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below, or head on over to our Motley Fool CAPS community to share your insights with every Fool.

Further Foolishness:

eBay and Nokia are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Take-Two Interactive Software is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. eBay and Electronic Arts are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Take-Two, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.