HP: relentlessly reaching for Palm

Contact: Brenon Daly

As Hewlett-Packard prepares to report fiscal second-quarter results after the close of the market today, there’s already been an SEC filing related to the tech giant that has attracted a fair amount of interest. That document is the proxy statement for HP’s pending acquisition of mobile OS maker Palm Inc. The background on the deal shows that despite Palm being in a fairly vulnerable financial position, the company managed to attract significant interest.

Perhaps reflecting Palm’s dwindling cash and overall dimming outlook, the $1.2bn deal came together with almost unprecedented speed. It took just two months for the acquisition to transpire. The target – along with law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell and financial advisers Goldman Sachs and Qatalyst Partners – winnowed an initial list of 24 possible suitors to just six companies, including HP, in quick order.

According to the proxy, there were two primary bidders besides HP for Palm, along with other parties that were interested in all or just some of the vendor’s patents. HP initially offered $4.75 for each share of Palm, about one dollar less than the $5.70 per share that it ended up paying for it two weeks later. The reason for the bump? A bid of $5.50 per share from an unidentified suitor, referred to as ‘Company C’ in the proxy.