HP Explores Aruba Networks Purchase

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

HP in talks with Aruba Networks over a possible acquisition to bolster its Wi-Fi infrastructure credentials

Hewlett-Packard could be about to open its corporate cheque book once again, with reports emerging that the technology giant is in acquisition talks with enterprise Wi-Fi specialist Aruba Networks.

Aruba specialises in providing Wi-Fi access tech for businesses such as large shopping centres, hotels, university campuses etc.

The deal could allow the company to reinvigorate the HP Networking group, which already offers a campus Wi-Fi solution, as well as other networking technology for the data centre and other sectors.

Possible Acquisition

There is no official word from either company at the moment, after Bloomberg News, cited people with knowledge of the matter as its source.

It reported that the purchase could be announced as soon as next week, according to one of its sources, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. It seems, however, that a deal has not yet been completed, and the talks could still fall through.

Aruba NetworksAruba has a market capitalisation of $2.4bn (£1.5bn) and a deal could see HP once again spending big money, despite years of financial pain and restructuring, as the company struggled to adapt to a new era of mobile and online computing.

HP is currently in the process of splitting itself into two listed companies this year. It will separate its computer and printer businesses from its corporate hardware and services operations.

HP had been a serial purchaser of companies before Meg Whitman took over in 2011. Indeed, it is said to have spent nearly $66 billion (£43bn) in buying companies before Whitman came on board.

Chequered Record

And unfortunately, HP has a poor reputation when it comes to large acquisitions. It purchased IT services giant EDS in 2008 and Autonomy in 2011.

It then had to write off billions of dollars from those two acquisitions, and Whitman and co are involved in a very public spat with Automony’s former management team, after allegations that they had carried out accounting improprieties that inflated Autonomy’s finances.

HP also acquired mobile maker Palm for $1.2 billion (£790m) in 2010. It then tried (and failed) to rule the world with Palm tablets and smartphones running webOS.

In 2013, it quietly sold off the well regarded webOS operating system to electronics giant LG, so it could use the OS in its smart TVs.

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