New York / San Francisco: The creator of the Pre smartphone, Palm Inc., is seeking bids for the company as early as this week, according to three people familiar with the situation.
Seeking suitors: Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein. The company’s shares surged 32% last week on renewed speculation of a takeover bid. Daniel Acker / Bloomberg
The company is working with Goldman Sachs and Frank Quattrone’s Qatalyst Partners to find a buyer, said the people, who declined to be identified because a sale hasn’t been announced. Taiwan’s HTC Corp. and China’s Lenovo Group Ltd have looked at the company and may make offers, the people said.
Palm, which helped pioneer the market for personal digital assistants, will offer suitors the WebOS software that competes against mobile operating systems from iPhone maker Apple Inc. and Google Inc. For Elevation Partners LP, the firm that owns around 30% of Palm, a sale may end the volatility of an investment in a stock that surged more than 10-fold since December 2008 before erasing most of the gain.
Palm shares surged 32% last week on the Nasdaq Stock Market on renewed speculation of a takeover bid. Before the rally, the stock had plunged more than 60% this year, dragged down by disappointing sales of the Pre and Pixi phones.
Chief executive officer (CEO) Jon Rubinstein, who developed Palm’s latest operating system, was counting on the Pre and Pixi smartphones to attract customers. The firm has patents from mobile hardware to software and power-saving technologies.
Palm, which had a market value of $870.8 million (Rs3,866 crore) before Monday, ranked sixth in the North American smartphone market during the three months ended 31 December with a 4.3% share, according to Gartner Inc.