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What if IBM doesn't buy Sun?

Schwartz and McNealy exit would be on the cards

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Schwartz at the end of the road

In turn, this could prompt senior management changes in Sun, with the investors and the board taking the view that current management has run Sun into a dead-end, a cul-de-sac, from which the only exit for them is a company sale. If the company sale strategy fails then, surely, the senior management team must walk the plank.

They have lost any and all credibility as a management team that could take Sun forward as an independent entity. By not denying that talks with potential acquirers have taken place, and by not countering Otellini's reported and unaltered views about Sun hawking itself around, they are implying that the reports are correct and that they have no strategy for Sun going forward but a sale.

How can they then create a go-forward strategy and energise the company, having demonstrated that they believe the best Sun future is in a sell-off?

A failed sale will be a tremendous indictment of their capabilities and beliefs and they must, surely, be toast in that case. They will have zero credibility, having failed to sell Sun. Off with their heads and, quite possibly, exit Scott McNealy as well.

The board has not issued any denials, and so it too is being complicit in the realisation by Sun's customers and investors that Schwartz and his team have been and are trying to sell Sun with board approval.

A possibility for Sun, if the putative IBM buy fails, is that it will split itself up and sell off parts of the company in an attempt to gain funds, increase shareholder value and finance restructuring efforts aimed at closing down loss-making parts of the company. This will surely be done by new management with a new board chairman and new board members.

If the buy fails and the existing senior management team and board try to carry on as before, with Sun an independent entity, then they run the risk of becoming a laughing stock with no credibility within or outside the company. All they will be able to do is hold a Sun yard sale as competitors plunder Sun's customer base and channels.

It will be an ignominious end for what has been a very, very fine company - one that deserves better. ®

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