According to the Gartner Group, Comdisco's filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection keeps the sale of its availability solutions business from immediate approval. The court continues to accept bids from other companies and will likely not select a buyer until mid November 2001.
On 6 August 2001, Hewlett-Packard (HP) announced that the regulatory waiting period had expired on its offer to buy Comdisco's availability solution business for $610 million in cash. The expiration eliminates antitrust concerns as a barrier to the sale. However, since Comdisco filed for temporary protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy law, the bankruptcy court must also give its approval.
Although HP acknowledged the role of the bankruptcy court in its press release, it implied that its acquisition of Comdisco's availability solution business is assured. This is not the case. The bankruptcy court could accept a more favorable bid. Under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a buyer will emerge through court-approved bidding procedures instead of by HP alone. The deadline for submitting bids to the court is 30 September 2001. As several vendors are interested in bidding on Comdisco's business, Gartner expects the court will have additional bids to consider. Assuming alternative bidders can operate Comdisco's business as an ongoing concern and would not unnecessarily delay a purchase because of antitrust concerns, the bankruptcy judge will likely choose the most favorable bid.
It's not over until the court announces the winner. Gartner expects that the court will make a decision fairly quickly to ensure that the transaction does not severely affect Comdisco customers and ongoing business operations. If the court receives additional bids, an auction will occur on 11 October 2001. A decision and closing will be made by 16 November 2001. Comdisco customers should not move to another business continuity provider because the selected buyer will likely continue business as usual.
In the long term, an acquisition would likely result in a rationalization of Comdisco's and the acquirer's facilities to improve productivity and reduce costs. Speculation on which facilities will likely close is premature until the ultimate buyer becomes known. Again, Comdisco customers should not panic. The closing of any facility would require a significant amount of advanced planning. However, when signing a contract for business continuity services with HP, IBM, Sungard Data Systems or Comdisco, enterprises should add an additional clause entitling them to compensation in the event of a facility closure.
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