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Catz: HP could have joined Oracle's Sun buyout on the eve of the deal

Oracle gave HP one last chance to buy Sun's hardware business, Oracle co-President Safra Catz says

HP could have joined in on Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems until just before the deal was announced, Oracle co-President Safra Catz told a judge on Tuesday.

On Friday, April 17, 2009, Catz met with Michael Holston, then HP's general counsel, and then-CEO Mark Hurd at Holston's home, she recalled during testimony in HP's lawsuit against Oracle over the Itanium server platform. At that meeting, Oracle executives asked Hurd if he was sure he didn't want to go in with Oracle and buy the hardware side of Sun's business, she said. Hurd declined.

The following Monday, April 20, Oracle announced it would buy all of Sun for US$7.4 billion. In January 2010, the deal was finally completed following regulatory approvals.

Oracle first became interested in Sun because it had heard IBM wanted to buy the company and HP didn't want its rival to gain control of Sun's valuable technologies, especially Java, Catz said. But at first, Oracle only wanted Sun's software assets and sought a joint buyout along with HP.

"When we looked at it originally, we didn't want the hardware assets at all," Catz said. However, over time, Oracle recognized the value of combining hardware and software in one package, through its success with its Exadata platform. Exadata combines software, storage, computing and networking elements made by Oracle.

Some documents uncovered in the current litigation with HP indicated that Oracle continued to have doubts about the hardware products it acquired with Sun.

Oracle's acquisition of Sun made it a hardware competitor to HP, a longtime partner, for the first time. A few months after Oracle took over Sun, HP fired Hurd and Oracle quickly hired him as co-President, setting off a series of events that led to HP's current lawsuit. It claims Oracle breached a contract when it stopped porting new versions of its software to Oracle's Itanium processor platform.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com


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