Tech firms HP, EMC call off merger talks: Sources

Hewlett-Packard has ended merger talks with EMC Corp. and may announce this development as soon as Wednesday, deciding to walk away after months of fruitless negotiations, people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The official cessation of discussions to merge two of the tech industry's largest enterprise-oriented firms may come as a disappointment to activist investors Elliott Management, which has pushed hard for storage products maker EMC to pursue merger or spinoff opportunities.

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Pressure is building on EMC as rival technology companies, such as eBay and Symantec, begin spinning off operations in an attempt to unlock shareholder value, become more agile, and capitalize on faster-growing businesses.

Hewlett-Packard recalls 6 million power cords over fire hazard.
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Hewlett-Packard recalls 6 million power cords over fire hazard.

It is unclear when talks ended following months-long discussions, the people said on condition of anonymity because the talks were private.

Executives from the two companies were still trying to hammer out a deal as recently as last week, but talks bogged down on price and are now dead, the people said.

HP has temporarily suspended its stock buyback program ahead of its Nov. 25 earnings because the company said it is in possession of material non-public information. When pressed by stock analysts, Chief Financial Officer Cathie Lesjak noted on a conference call that the non-public information pertains to a possible acquisition.

HP and EMC declined to comment on Tuesday.

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It is also unclear what specifically was discussed. A straight-up merger of the two companies would have created one of the industry's largest providers of data storage, and created a computing giant with deep penetration in the business of providing computing hardware and services to corporations.

Elliot Management, which owns 2.2 percent of EMC, has been vocal about wanting EMC to merge or spin off some of its assets, such as software subsidiary VMWare. But EMC has publicly said it plans to keep its company together.

HP is now engaged in a breakup of its own, which analysts say should discourage merger thoughts.

HP has said it will split into Hewlett-Packard Enterprises, a tech infrastructure, software and services business, and HP, a leading player in the slow-growing PC and printer markets.