Palm Inc. Up for Sale

Palm Inc. is actively looking for a buyer. The company is struggling in the wake of plummeting sales and stock prices. Bloomberg reports:

Palm may burn $80 million every three months for the next five quarters as competition in the smartphone market intensifies, Berenberg Bank analysts including Adnaan Ahmad wrote in a March 25 report. The company held $592 million in cash and short-term investments at the end of its fiscal third- quarter, according to the report.

The company is working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Frank Quattrone’s Qatalyst Partners to find a buyer, said the people, who declined to be identified because a sale hasn’t been announced. Taiwan’s HTC Corp. and China’s Lenovo Group Ltd. have looked at the company and may make offers, said the people.

“Palm still has quite a good brand in the U.S. market, and some strong technology, so you can do something with it,” said Frank He, a technology analyst at BOC International Holdings Ltd. in Hong Kong. “The shares have gone down a lot and the company may become attractive to anyone looking for a turnaround play.”

Even if the Palm brand, handsets, and WebOS don’t survive the sale, Palm’s patents could make everything worthwhile. HTC, which faces 20 patent infringement charges from Apple, might be the ideal buyer. From Gizmodo (via CNET):

Apple and Palm have threatened to sue each other in the past. Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein, who was at Apple during the development of the iPhone, came to Palm to create a theoretical iPhone killer and save the company from irrelevance. He built a nice phone, but his marketing strategy failed miserably. During this time, however, Apple never sued Palm, presumably because Palm has enough patents to sue Apple back and make the legal battle pointless.

Other potential Palm suitors include China’s Huawei and ZTE, Dell, and Motorola.

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