R Inc for $2.4 billion, after rival Dell Inc bowed out from a drawn-out bidding war on Thursday. HP raised its offer by $3 to $33 per share, beating Dell's latest $32-a-share offer and ending an exchange of bids that escalated to levels that many analysts said was too high. 3PAR shares rose 75 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $32.83. They had mostly traded around $10 this year, until Dell announced its $18 per share bid in August. The deal values 3PAR at over eight times sales, and many analysts have said that was too high for a company that has barely ever made a profit since it was founded in 1999.
Multiples above five are considered lofty in technology deals. Others, however, say 3PAR is worth it. The company specializes in data storage, considered 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 cut costs. Such technology is seen increasingly crucial as emails, online video and electronic business transactions put a strain on corporate data centers. “Do I think it was an extremely rich valuation? Absolutely. But I think, given that it's all cash, it shouldn't take too long for it to be accretive,” said Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analyst Aaron Rakers. “The question is, what kind of revenue synergy assumptions are they making.” Large technology companies like Dell, HP, as well as IBM and Cisco, have all been seeking to diversify and become one-stop shops for their clients' various technology needs. Dell said it is entitled to a $72 million break-up fee from 3PAR. “We took a measured approach throughout the process and have decided to end these discussions,” Dave Johnson, who is in charge of Dell's corporate strategy, said in a statement.
HP, with $115 billion in annual revenue compared with Dell's $53 billion, was always seen as the likely winner. HP's vast and global sales force is also seen helping 3PAR bolster sales and turn its business profitable. Bidding wars are rare in the technology sector. In the last notable bidding war in the tech industry, EMC Corp outbid NetApp Inc 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 advised 3PAR in the latest negotiations. Credit Suisse Group AG advised Dell and JPMorgan Chase & Co advised HP.