Well, it certainly looks suspicious. In the nine days before International Paper announced its $2.7 billion acquisition of Federal Paper Board, normally languid Federal Paper shares shot up 27%. IP says Federal approached it about a deal around the time the stock started its spurt. But Federal's availability was no secret, says one analyst: "Federal has been the perennial buyout candidate." Federal says it engaged investment bankers months ago. "You know what happens," says an executive. "It gets out."

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