Grab a bag of popcorn and settle down by the big screen, folks -- we have an honest-to-goodness bidding war on our hands!
Data Domain (Nasdaq: DDUP ) is the blushing maiden torn between first love NetApp (Nasdaq: NTAP ) and new beau EMC (NYSE: EMC ) . NetApp asked for Data Domain's hand less than two weeks ago, and I thought the deal made a lot of sense. This is just the kind of astute acquisition that NetApp needs to make in order to join the big boys of data storage like EMC, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) , Hitachi, and IBM (NYSE: IBM ) . You need a certain scale to land some of the bigger contracts, you know.
But now EMC has rained on NetApp's parade with a $30-per-share cash offer. With over $7.2 billion of liquid assets on hand, EMC is most definitely rich enough to cover the full $1.8 billion purchase price, net of Data Domain's cash, right from its checkbook. NetApp has only about $2.6 billion in its war chest and would have to go into debt to stay in this race much longer.
As Yoda would say: Begun, this bidding war has. While Data Domain's deduplication products make a great fit with EMC's storage solutions, I believe that NetApp simply needs this deal more than EMC does. It may take secondary stock offerings, debt papers, or perhaps a joint purchase deal with a bigger and richer partner -- perhaps Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL ) is serious enough about this curious new hardware direction to invest in a Data Domain joint venture?
Perhaps EMC's bid is just meant to raise the price tag for NetApp, and perhaps EMC really wants this deal. We shall see in the coming weeks. In the meantime, there is one certain winner: Data Domain's shareholders.