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Strategies & Market Trends : Speculating in Takeover Targets
CTG 7.770-0.1%1:16 PM EST

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From: richardred10/15/2010 12:24:42 PM
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It's for Real: Seagate Confirms Buyout Talks

By Anders Bylund | More Articles
October 15, 2010 | Comments (0)

Here we go: Hard drive maker Seagate Technology (Nasdaq: STX) has confirmed that it's in buyout talks with an unnamed "interested party."

Both Seagate and chief rival Western Digital (NYSE: WDC) have been looking like buyout bait for a long time, thanks to a combination of solid business and rock-bottom valuations. I have identified both companies as tremendous values, and fellow Fool Brian Pacampara agrees. It's about time somebody takes advantage of Seagate's mispriced, high-quality business.

Private equity firms are masters of sniffing out undervalued assets and flipping them over a couple of years for a sweet profit. With acquisition talk building, you could see public companies get interested as well. Other potential buyers include serial buyout bingers Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL), and IBM (NYSE: IBM), all of whom have a strong interest in data storage and could integrate a cheap and guaranteed supply of disk drives into their industrywide operations. And there's always the outside chance that Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) has decided to take an even deeper interest in hardware systems by building a storage presence from the ground up.

However, there are parts of a Seagate acquisition that wouldn't make sense for this list of serial acquirers. IBM exited the hard drive market years ago by selling that operation to Hitachi. Cisco would be better served by a builder of storage systems such as NetApp (Nasdaq: NTAP) rather than Seagate's nuts-and-bolts products. Finally, Bloomberg reports that Seagate (which has been taken private once before) had recent talks with buyout firms, but those fell apart after the company wouldn't meet financial projections the private equity firm expected.

With official word from Seagate's management, this newest deal-making process sits a cut above rumors, but is still less than signing on the dotted line. You can still buy Seagate and benefit from the final buyout premium, if it happens. Conversely, current shareholders skeptical of a complete deal can sell and enjoy the preliminary pop.

How are you playing Seagate's announcement? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.
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