Computer maker Dell probably thought it had a lock on cloud computing and virtualization business 3Par when it offered $1.13 billion for the company last week. But then Hewlett-Packard swooped in and offered a commanding $1.5 billion for the same company…and since then, things have taken a turn for the chaotic. Dell yesterday offered $1.6 billion for 3Par—and 3Par accepted the bid—and Friday the companies engaged in a tit-for-tat bidding war, with HP escalating its offer to $1.88 billion and Dell immediately firing back with a matching offer.
Under the terms of Dell’s initial acquisition deal with 3Par, Dell only has to match any competing bids for the company; Dell doesn’t have to exceed them to carry through with its acquisition.
The current offers for 3Par value its stock at $30 per share, three times what shares in the company were trading for before Dell announced its initial offer.
Both Dell and HP are looking to 3Par to expand their cloud computing and storage operations, which are increasingly important for companies looking to outsource applications and Internet infrastructure. Whoever winds up acquiring 3Par will not only be buying a business for software and service subscriptions to cloud-computing resources, but fueling a market for their own server and enterprise infrastructure hardware.
Both Dell and HP have enough cash reserves to make the acquisition of 3Par very expensive for the other: the bidding war could escalate for some time. HP’s interest in 3Par may be merely to make the acquisition as expensive as possible for Dell—HP already has its own cloud computing operations—but there’s little doubt both companies see acquiring 3Par as in their best long-term strategic interests.