There’s only one 3PAR

Contact: Brenon Daly

Let’s see, where have we heard this before? A storage company with hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue finds itself in a billion-dollar bidding war between two tech giants, advised in the process by high-end boutique Qatalyst Partners. Last summer, scarcity value drove the price of Data Domain; today it’s 3PAR.

Looking to trump Dell’s existing agreement for 3PAR, Hewlett-Packard on Monday lobbed a topping bid for the high-end storage provider. HP, advised by JP Morgan Securities, is offering $24 for each share of 3PAR, giving the proposed transaction an enterprise value of $1.56bn. (That’s according to our math, compared to the $1.66bn that HP gives its bid.) In any case, the offer is some $380m, or 33%, richer than Dell’s initial bid. Recall that Dell’s offer of $18 valued 3PAR at the highest level ever for the stock.

One interesting observation about HP’s topping bid: it is exactly the same percentage (33%) that EMC had to hand over for Data Domain, which had agreed to sale to NetApp. Of course, this is HP’s first counter, while EMC had to bump its own bid. (Initially it offered $30 for each Data Domain share, but ultimately paid $33 per share when it closed the deal in July 2009.) Of course, there was little hope of NetApp matching EMC in a bidding war for Data Domain. In the case of 3PAR, however, rivals Dell and HP are on much closer financial footing. Terms of Dell’s original agreement with 3PAR call for a $53.5m breakup fee