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Could Red Hat be Novell's spouse?

Jim Whitehurst says his firm will 'look at anything'

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Red Hat's CEO Jim Whitehurst declined to dismiss the possibility of buying out his company's Linux rival Novell in a meeting with reporters in London today.

Whitehurst said the open source software vendor was eyeing up possible virtualisation and cloud acquisitions but added nothing was on the horizon yet.

On the subject of Novell, which is currently seeking a suitor among up to 20 different prospective buyers, Red Hat's boss said:

"Given we’re Novell’s competitor I could make some snide comments about it… but then I’ll feel bad and will have to call Ron [Hovsepian] and apologise," he said.

"I’ll just say I can’t comment on anything specific going on out there but we’ll look at anything."

Meanwhile, Red Hat is ambitiously pursuing Whitehurst's goal of making the vendor a $5bn company, which pulled in revenues of $750m in 2009, in the next few years.

"It will take a long time," he said. "We want to be a $1bn company by next year but we need to generate bookings this year… What we do just dramatically reduces revenue in the categories we’re in.

"With the open source model we are still one of the most profitable software companies in terms of the margins. The power of the model allows us to generate a order of magnitude greater value for our customers and still be profitable.

"But again our shadow’s bigger than our profit would suggest. I think we can get to $5bn but it will take us a few years."

And as for Red Hat's flirtations around cloud and virtualisation firms, Whitehurst said: "You will likely see us increase our acquisitions. We’re highly cashflow positive.

"There’s nothing upcoming but we’re actively looking at our opportunities." ®

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