August 25, 2010 / 2:07 AM / 7 years ago

Dell to challenge HP with new 3PAR bid: source

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dell Inc is planning a stronger bid for data storage firm 3PAR Inc, challenging Hewlett-Packard Co’s offer of $24 per share, a source familiar with the talks said on Wednesday.

The source said Dell’s new bid was likely to be more “competitive” than HP’s last offer of $1.6 billion, but did not say how much higher the new bid would be.

A Dell spokesman declined to comment on the negotiations.

A Reuters survey of nine fund managers and analysts on Tuesday found most expect another bid or two and a final price of about $29 per share.

The pursuit of 3PAR comes as HP and Dell, as well as other large technology vendors such as International Business Machines Corp and Cisco Systems Inc, vie to sell a wider array of products and services and invest in new technology.

3PAR specializes in high-end data storage, a key part of “cloud computing” -- an increasingly popular technology that enables computer users to access data and software over the Internet, allowing companies to save costs.

Some analysts, however, have said HP’s latest bid is too high and Dell might walk away. 3PAR shares were down around 0.2 percent at $26.99, although they briefly rose to $27.49 after Reuters reported Dell’s plans for a new bid.

3PAR said on Tuesday it will start merger talks with HP after HP’s offer topped Dell’s previous $1.15 billion bid.

If 3PAR’s board endorses HP’s bid, it would give Dell three business days to sweeten its offer. 3PAR said in a filing on Tuesday it had not yet made such a decision.

Bidding wars are rare in the tightly knit technology sector, where deals are often made behind closed doors.

In the last notable bidding war in the tech industry, EMC outbid NetApp last year to buy Data Domain for $2.4 billion. Data Domain was advised in that deal by Frank Quattrone, the same veteran technology banker who is advising 3PAR in the latest negotiations.

Credit Suisse Group AG is advising Dell and JPMorgan Chase & Co advises HP.

Dell shares rose 1.8 percent to $11.79, while those of HP were up one penny at $38.40 in late afternoon trading.

Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Robert MacMillan and Andre Grenon

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