HTC Declines to Bid for Palm; Palm Open to Licensing webOS

A lot is happening around Palm the past few weeks. The company put itself up for sale, with HTC and Lenovo being the most important candidates. HTC has now backed down, leaving only Lenovo as the major contender. In the meantime, Palm’s CEO Jon Rubinstein continues to believe the company can go at it alone, but is nonetheless open to the idea of being bought – while also opening the door to licensing the webOS.

Reuters is reporting that despite the geek lovefest that would ensue, HTC has backed out of buying Palm. Their source is someone close to the matter, who states that “there just weren’t enough synergies to take the deal forward”. This could, of course, all be part of a corporate game to force Palm to lower its asking price.

This leaves Lenovo as the only (known) contender to buy Palm. In light of good results and the prospect of them buying Palm, Lenovo’s shares rose 5.9 percent today to a 23-month high. “A most suitable candidate [to buy Palm] will be a mainland Chinese company,” Lu Chialin, an analyst at Macquarie Securities in Taipei, told Reuters, “They’ve got a lot more free cash and don’t have the brand presence in the United States, so that will all give them that boost they need.”

In the meantime, Palm’s CEO Jon Rubinstein still believes the company can go at it alone. “I believe Palm can survive as an independent company,” Rubinstein told the Financial Times, “We have a plan that gets us to profitability. [We’re working] fast and furious on new handsets. We do have a strong pipeline of products in the future.”

Plan or no, the company is open to buying bids, Rubinstein said. “If someone comes to the board with a reasonable offer of course it’s something we have to consider,” he stated. Rubinstein did not want to confirm that Palm hired banking advisors to help in a possible takeover.

Another option for Palm would be to license its webOS – definitely the strong point of Palm’s product line. “If there’s an appropriate strategic relationship or business deal that makes sense to us then of course we would licence webOS because obviously the more scale we get the more the benefit there is to us,” Rubinstein said.


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