HP, Oracle in Alleged Brocade Bromance
Brocade investors are smiling into their coffee cups this morning after reports that the networking-gear maker has put itself up for sale sent the company’s shares soaring.
People familiar with the matter tell The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg that Brocade (BRCD) is seeking a buyer and that both Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Oracle (ORCL) are among its potential suitors. No deal is imminent, but rumor that one might be coming was enough to spike Brocade’s shares some 15 percent.
It’s easy to see why Oracle and HP–and IBM (IBM) as well–might be interested in Brocade. The company’s portfolio of data-networking products and services would do much to help HP take on Cisco (CSCO). It would also give Oracle its own line of networking gear, fulfilling CEO Larry Ellison’s dream of offering customers complete systems as T.J. Watson’s IBM once did.
That said, there are issues with both scenarios. As Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Ittai Kidron explained in a research note this morning, an acquisition by Oracle would require the company to really commit to hardware as a long-term growth plan. “If the company truly plans to become a systems company (one-stop shop software/hardware), then Brocade would be a nice fit, especially including Sun Microsystems with no overlap,” Kidron said, adding, “we’re a bit in the dark on strategy here.”
And what of HP? That’s potentially far more problematic, what with equipment overlap and revenue implications. “Brocade would add the missing data center switch architecture as well as a strong presence in the SAN switch market,” Kidron explained. “That said, there would be massive overlap with HP’s ProCurve networking unit, which we believe would be disruptive. Also, IBM and EMC are 10% customers for Brocade and could be lost as customers (along with HP’s 10% business of Brocade).”
So will Brocade be tech’s next big buyout?