HP Palm Purchase Gets US FTC Approval

The US Federal Trade Commission has given HP the thumbs up for its billion dollar acquisition of phone maker Palm

Hewlett-Packard has been given the nod by the Federal Trade Commission for its acquisition of  smartphone-maker Palm, although the deal remains subject to shareholder approval.

“The proposed merger remains subject to other customary closing conditions,” states a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, “including the approval of Palm’s stockholders.”

The stockholders have scheduled a special meeting for Friday, 25 June, to vote on the proposed merger.

Bidding War

HP announced its intent to purchase Palm for $1.2 billion (£816 million) on 28 April. While the maker of the Palm Pre and Pixi smartphones, as well as the roundly praised webOS platform, had been financially struggling for some time, a proxy statement Palm filed with SEC showed that 16 companies expressed interest in Palm before HP, after a bidding war with just a handful of unnamed companies, won with a proposal of $4.75 (£3.23) in cash for each share of Palm.

While the Palm acquisition could enable HP to rejoin the smartphone market, Palm’s webOS is expected to also benefit the PC maker as it looks to compete against Apple in the newly revived tablet arena.

“We anticipate that with the webOS we’ll be able to aggressively deploy an integrated platform that will allow HP to own the entire customer experience, to nurture and grow the developer community, and provide a rich media experience for our customers,” HP Executive Vice President Tom Bradley said in an 28 April statement.

Tablet Wars

While HP has reportedly confirmed that it will still release its Microsoft-running Slate tablet later this year, it’s rumoured to also be working on a tablet called the HP Hurricane, which would run webOS and be available as soon as the third quarter of 2010.

Analysts such as IMS Research’s Chris Schreck have suggested that the open-source webOS could enable HP to better compete against not just the iPad but the considerable number of devices currently in the works, several of which are expected to run Google’s Android.

“[WebOS] uses standard development languages already common among PC developers,” Schreck said in a May 3 report. “If HP can create a compelling tablet offering that people are willing to buy, the barriers to entry might be fairly minimal.”