Why these 4 leading ASX 200 shares grabbed the Motley Fool's headlines this week

New all-time highs and a potential mega-merger saw these four ASX 200 shares leap into the Motley Fool's headlines this week.

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There was a lot of action among S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) shares this week.

Some of it still going on today.

As we approach the final hours of trade before the weekend, we look at four ASX 200 shares that have dominated our headlines over the week almost gone by.

ASX 200 shares hitting all-time highs

On Wednesday, Cochlear Ltd (ASX: COH) grabbed the Motley Fool's headlines alongside Super Retail Group Ltd (ASX: SUL).

That came after both ASX 200 shares notched new record highs.

Shares in Cochlear, which manufactures and sells cochlear implantable devices, closed up 2.4% to $284.41 on Wednesday. That saw the healthcare stock up 39% in 2023 and trading at its highest price since listing on the ASX way back on 4 December 1995.

Super Retail, whose brands include Supercheap Auto, Rebel, BCF, and Macpac, joined Cochlear by setting its own fresh all-time highs on the day.

The ASX 200 share closed up 1.4% to finish the day at $14.70. That saw shares up 37% in 2023 and represented the highest share price since Super Retail began trading on the ASX on 6 July 2004.

Which brings us to…

Mega-merger talks grab Motley Fool headline news

In news that broke after market close on Thursday and continues to grab the Motley Fool's headlines today, ASX oil and gas giants Santos Ltd (ASX: STO) and Woodside Energy Group Ltd (ASX: WDS) confirmed media speculations that they are in merger discussions.

Both ASX 200 shares noted that the discussions were in an early phase with no guarantees the two Aussie energy giants would combine.

"Discussions remain confidential and incomplete, and there is no certainty that the discussions will lead to a transaction," Woodside said.

In afternoon trade on Friday, the Santos share price is up 5.8% on the merger news, while Woodside shares are down 0.58%.

That divergence in performance amongst the two ASX 200 shares looks to be driven by the analysis that Santos shares trade at a discount to Woodside shares.

For the merger to proceed, UBS analyst Tom Allen said, "Woodside must be willing to recognise and pay up for … [the] considerable value in Santos' portfolio, not reflected in the price."

Motley Fool contributor Bernd Struben has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Cochlear. The Motley Fool Australia has positions in and has recommended Super Retail Group. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Cochlear. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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