/// Oracle Buying Hewlett-Packard? Fuhgeddaboudit!

September 30, 2011  |  All Things Digital


Amid all the recent drama that has unfolded at Hewlett-Packard — and the he-said she-said back and forth concerning Oracle and whether or not it was approached to buy Autonomy before HP ponied up — lies a lingering meme that refuses to die: That somehow the software giant Oracle is going to make a bid for HP. Given the recent feuds between the management teams at the two companies, Oracle’s acquisitive history and HP’s sudden weakness, it doesn’t take much for a popular narrative of Oracle buying HP to emerge. It would be a dramatic denouement to the events of the last year that have found HP and Oracle at increasingly caustic loggerheads. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison would take some kind of victory lap and mount HP on the wall like a of trophy. The idea gained some currency with an Aug. 21 story in the New York Post (which, like this Web site, is owned by News Corp.) arguing that HP’s $11.7 billion bid for the British software firm Autonomy, having caused shareholders to knock $12 billion and change off HP’s market cap, would therefore make HP more attractive to Oracle. The meme gained further currency with a Bloomberg News story saying that HP’s board was “ concerned ” that its weakened condition had left it vulnerable to Oracle. Let me put it like this: No. Just, no . The first problem with the notion is this: What parts of HP would Oracle want to own? Answer: Practically none. First, let’s look at the condition of Oracle: Its mainline software businesses are showing healthy returns, while its hardware business, built on the foundation of Sun Microsystems, the IT hardware concern it acquired last year for $7 billion, is ramping up to full speed. But here’s a fundamental truth: Software carries a higher profit margin than hardware, so when software companies buy hardware companies, they can’t avoid seeing their overall profitability erode.

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Oracle Buying Hewlett-Packard? Fuhgeddaboudit!


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