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3PAR had three suitors

It approached a fourth

HP's decision time 1 - no go

Qatalyst met Company B on Saturday, July 31, and said it needed to raise its bid above its July 23 indication of interest amount. We can assume that Qatalyst said Company B would have to get to more than $18/share. Company B said no on Sunday, August 1, and 3PAR agreed the Dell exclusivity deal on that same day, running through to August 15.

Due diligence meetings took place in these two weeks and coincidentally, Mark Hurd resigned as HP CEO on August 6. In the Dell and 3PAR talks a termination fee of 4.25 per cent was agreed. Michael Dell and David Scott reviewed progress on August 10. The merger agreement was finalised on August 15 and the acquisition announced on August 16.

HP's decision time 2 - go go go

So, everything was done and dusted - except that HP decided to re-enter the game and make a hostile bid on August 23, with a substantially increased offer of $24/share, totalling $1.6bn compared to Dell's $1.13bn. Our understanding is that Dell is now preparing a counter bid, possibly in the $20/share area. A headless HP has made a decisive re-entry into the bidding race for 3PAR and Qatalyst partners now has the circumstances it needs to get as high a valuation of Dell as it can, engaging in a bid price shuffle dance, exchanging partners and testing price proposals in a what has become a 3PAR auction.

The identity of Companies A, B and C have not been revealed. Based on HP's admission of talks with 3PAR preceding the Dell bid and of it increasing its offer than it is almost certain that HP is Company B. Who are Companies A and C? We might assume the possibilities include Oracle and Cisco. HDS invents its own storage and has a new USP-V system due out in the next month or two. IBM has already bought its cloudy high-end storage in the form of XIV. Oracle has the Sun 7000 line but that isn't generally regarded as enterprise class. NetApp invents its own storage architectures and it's generally thought it has a new high end box, a FAS7000 or FAS8000 coming out soon. We can see two other possibilities in the shape of Fujitsu and NEC, but our money is that Oracle was Company A whilst Cisco was Company C. ®

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