HP outbid four others for Palm

Hewlett-Packard spent $1.2 billion to acquire Palm but it wasn’t the only one interested in getting its hands on webOS and all those increasingly-valuable mobile patents. According to an SEC filing, there was a five-company bidding war for Palm.

HP is the only company named (the others are just referred to as “Company X”) but it shows there was some real interest in the smartphone pioneer. Palm said it also considered licensing out webOS as a way to generate revenue but ultimately decided against it because it could damage the brand and the overall value of its intellectual property. Without diving into too much of the maneuvering, HP started at $4.75 a share and this was eventually raised up to $5.70 per share for the winning bid. As I suspected, the company had already decided it wanted an outright acquisition even as Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein said it could survive as an independent company.

Who were those other companies? Well, we don’t know for sure but it’s a good bet that HTC, Lenovo and maybe even Research In Motion were in the running. Many of us here thought the HTC deal made the most sense because it would give HTC its own OS to pair with its elegant hardware and it would also give the company a boat load of patents in its legal battles with Apple.

Once it was clear HTC wasn’t in the running, many thought Lenovo was next in line. The deal would have given it a clear path into the U.S. market and it did something similar when it purchased IBM’s ThinkPad lineup. As for the RIM rumor, I always thought it was crazy but it was a fun thought exercise.

I’m pretty excited about how HP will use Palm and I’m sure we’ll see some interesting devices come out soon (tablets, anyone?). If you want some more context on the HP-Palm acquisition, check out the IntoMobile reaction to the deal. It’s a good read.

[Via Palm SEC filing]

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