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Five technology bidding wars preceding EMC vs. NetApp

From Google and Microsoft to Comcast and AT&T, bidding wars not that uncommon in technology world

By , Network World
June 03, 2009 05:00 PM ET

Network World - A new bidding war is emerging between EMC and NetApp, which have each bid nearly $2 billion to purchase storage vendor Data Domain. Which company will win out is not yet clear. While the battle continues, here is a look at five previous technology bidding wars that involved major vendors such as Google, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Verizon and Comcast.

Google vs. Microsoft for DoubleClick

Microsoft, Yahoo and Time Warner all tried to buy online advertising company DoubleClick, but were outmaneuvered by Google, which in April 2007 announced a deal to purchase DoubleClick for $3.1 billion. Because Google and DoubleClick together would dominate the market for Web advertising, Microsoft and others protested, saying the acquisition would harm competition and potentially give Google too much access to consumers' personal information. Google won the day in March 2008 after both U.S. and European regulators rubber-stamped the purchase.

Oracle vs. SAP for Retek

Like the Red Sox and Yankees, software rivals Oracle and SAP are constantly trying to out-spend and out-maneuver one another. In March 2005, Oracle beat out SAP to purchase Retek, a company that made retail-focused applications, including software for operations management, supply chain planning, merchandising and demand forecasting. SAP had offered $8.50 per share to buy Retek, but Oracle won the prize a week later by offering $9 a share, or about $500 million. This would not be the only time Oracle CEO Larry Ellison out-spent a competitor to snatch up a smaller company.

IBM vs. Oracle for Sun

Big Blue seemed to be in great position to acquire the struggling Sun Microsystems in March of this year, when the Wall Street Journal reported on confidential talks in which IBM offered $6.5 billion to purchase the company. Some industry analysts said Sun made a terrible mistake in turning down IBM, and thought it would be difficult for Sun to find another company willing to take on its various hardware and software product lines. But Sun proved them wrong by enticing Oracle, which swooped in with a $7.4 billion purchase agreement on April 20. After announcing the acquisition, Ellison delivered an implied criticism of IBM and its Unix software by calling Sun's Solaris operating system "by far the best Unix technology available in the market."

Verizon vs. Qwest for MCI

A three-month bidding war early in 2005 ended when Verizon inked an $8.5 billion deal to purchase MCI, which had rejected several higher offers from Qwest. Previously known by the more controversial name WorldCom, MCI had emerged from scandal-induced bankruptcy when the bidding war kicked off. Verizon initially agreed to a $6.7 billion deal in February '05, but was forced to raise its purchase price when Qwest upped the ante with an offer as high as $9.9 billion. Qwest dropped out of negotiations in May, claiming MCI "never intended to negotiate in good faith." The $8.5 billion deal between Verizon and MCI, agreed to in May '05, was finalized the following January.  

Comcast vs. AT&T for MediaOne

Consolidation in the cable industry was going strong in 1999 when AT&T bought MediaOne for $62.5 billion. But AT&T's victory didn't come without a fight. Initially, Comcast had a deal in place to buy MediaOne for $60 billion. But MediaOne wasted no time in terminating that merger agreement after receiving the larger offer from AT&T. The Comcast/AT&T battle was rendered moot in 2002, when AT&T spun off its broadband business, leading to a merger between Comcast and AT&T Broadband, creating the nation's largest cable television company.

Read more about infrastructure management in Network World's Infrastructure Management section.

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