Who was Palm's mystery suitor?

Opinion

Who was Palm's mystery suitor?

A bloodthirsty bidding war between five companies took place behind the scenes before Hewlett-Packard emerged victorious in the race to acquire troubled handset builder Palm, it has now emerged.

According to Palm's most recent SEC filing, detailed in greater depth by  Engadget, Palm had initially chatted up 16 other companies, but eventually narrowed it down to the final five, HP and four firms identified as Companies A through D. Of these, A and B were quickly sent packing.

The mysterious Company C then proceeded to shoot itself in the foot in the final stages of negotiation after dropping its offer to $5.50 a share on 22 April and writing in some extra clauses, including a $60m termination penalty if things didn't work out, that Palm didn't like the look of.

On 24 April, CEO Jon Rubinstein went back to HP, which ponied up the extra 20 cents a share to seal the deal at $1.2bn.

Two of the bidders were almost certainly  Lenovo, which publicly dropped out on 23 April (while Palm was still negotiating with Company C), and HTC, which still leaves two bidders, including Company C, to be identified.

Engadget's blogger claims that Company C never signed an NDA, so it will be interesting to see if someone close to the deal leaks its identity.

This was first published in May 2010

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