In March Elliott Associates made an unsolicited offer to buy Novell for $2B. The $16B hedge fund already held 8.5% of Novell’s stock.
Expecting a better offer, the board rejected the takeover and put the company up for sale.
Nobody acquired the company so far, but today the New York Post reports that Novell has reached a deal to divide and sell its assets in two parts: the first one, the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) business, will go to a strategic buyer, while the other, that includes everything else, will go to a private equity firm.
Assuming this rumor is true, it will be interesting to see exactly which parts go to who.
VMware just closed a deal with Novell to OEM SLES and distribute it as part of vSphere 4.1, and to leverage the Linux operating system as the platform of choice for all its virtual appliances.
The new owner of the SLES assets may be turn this deal into an uncomfortable partnership (unless VMware is the “strategy buyer” mentioned by the New York Post). Imagine what happens, for example, if the buyer is Oracle.
At the same time Novell owns the whole PlateSpin virtualization portfolio, including its pre-existing ZENWorks management solutions, and a brand new Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud computing management tool launched yesterday.
This part of the Novell business, which probably includes a number of patents, may be rather interesting to buy for any existing virtualization player.