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IBM in $6.5bn move for Sun

19 марта 2009

IBM is in advanced talks to acquire rival Sun Microsystems for roughly $6.5bn (€4.8bn) in cash , in a deal that could mark the start of wider consolidation in the technology industry as the recession shakes out weaker companies.

The acquisition would enable IBM, one of a handful of cash-rich companies to navigate the downturn so far largely unscathed, to cut costs sharply and bolster its computer hardware business in the slow-growing server market.

It would also loosen Microsoft’s strong grip on parts of the server business and mark the end of Sun, a former Silicon Valley darling, after its struggle against shrunken demand and an over-reliance on computer hardware.

IBM and Sun were in talks on Wednesday over the possible acquisition – which would value Sun at about $10 per share, including the cash already on its balance sheet, according to people close to the matter. Sun would be IBM’s biggest acquisition.

Analysts said any deal would face intense antitrust scrutiny. The two companies account for two-thirds of the $25.5bn global market for high-end servers. “People have been speculating about this one for years,” one dealmaker said. “IBM can take out an enormous amount of costs and there are also great synergies in terms of technology.”

A takeover of Sun would run counter to IBM’s broader efforts to focus on software and services. But the deal would let IBM build scale and cut costs on the hardware side of its business while taking advantage of Sun’s other technologies.

Sun, whose better-known offerings include the Java programming language and the Solaris operating system, has struggled since the dotcom bust as its high-price technology has been overtaken by a new generation of open source software and low-cost, standardised servers.

Speculation swirled last year over whether Sun could be targeted by activist shareholders looking to boost its sagging share price or by rivals interested in acquisitions.

Southeastern Asset Management has built up a 22 per cent stake and private equity firm KKR bought $700m of its convertible bonds in 2007.

Japan’s Fujitsu recently studied whether to buy parts of Sun, according to someone familiar with its deliberations.

Источник: Financial Times

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