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Investment firm slips $100m into Palm's stocking

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Palm is getting the greatest gift of all this holiday season. No, not family, friendship, and goodwill towards men – $100m.

Private equity firm Elevation Partners has agreed to make a $100m investment in the struggling smartphone maker to help keep things running during the economic dumps and push its 2009 product line – most notably Nova, a new Linux-based OS for mobiles arriving next month.

The money goes on top of its massive investment from Elevation Partners in June 2007, which also placed Jon Rubinstein, the former Apple executive behind its iPod division, as Palm's executive chairman of the board.

The latest injection gives Elevation a 39 per cent stake in the company, according to Bloomberg. The firm will buy Palm stock at a price of $3.24 per share, a 31 per cent premium to its closing price on December 19, 2008. Elevation also has warrants to acquire 7 million additional shares of Palm stock at the same price.

Palm added it can make Elevation sell up to $49m of the new investment to other shareholders at the same price or better terms by March 31.

"We believe that Palm is in a position to transform the cell phone industry, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to make this additional investment in the company," said Roger McNamee, co-founder of Elevation Partners in a statement. "Palm has an industry-leading team and an exciting, differentiated product roadmap. We are proud to be associated with the company and look forward to great things from Palm in 2009 and beyond."

With its Nova OS, Palm is hoping to take two per cent of the smartphone market. But with competition from Android, Windows Mobile, Symbian (and the iPhone's flavor of OS X), even that may prove a major challenge.

Many Reg readers are doubtlessly pondering at this point: "I wonder if U2's Bono fits into this story at all?"

Funny your mind should wander there. Bono just happens to be 1/5 of Elevation's investment team. So does this count as Bono saving Christmas? (We knew he'd attempt it sooner or later.)

Ehh – we'll give him partial credit. ®

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