HP extends Mercury bid a fourth time

HP extended the deadline for Mercury Interactive software shares to Nov. 1, the fourth extension

Hewlett-Packard (HP) is extending for a fourth time the deadline for Mercury Interactive shareholders to tender their shares to HP.

HP Wednesday said it has extended the deadline to midnight Eastern U.S. Time, Nov. 1, from the previously stated Oct. 27 deadline for the US$4.5 billion takeover of Mercury, a provider of business technology optimization software. HP said it wants to give Mercury shareholders the opportunity to review preliminary financial results posted Wednesday for Mercury and then consider HP's offer.

Mercury, whose stock is traded on the over-the-counter market, stated that it anticipates third quarter revenue growth of between 20 percent and 22 percent over the third quarter of 2005. The company also said its Mercury BTO Enterprise software suite closed 24 new deals in the third quarter each worth more than US$1 million in revenue each.

The deal has been complicated by Mercury's incorrectly recording the value of stock options grants and the resignations of its chief executive officer, chief financial officer and general counsel last year .

HP offered US$52 a share for Mercury stock when it announced the deal in July. Mercury stock was selling at US$51.83 late Wednesday afternoon following the HP extension announcement.

HP said 38.9 million shares of Mercury have been tendered to HP as of Oct. 24, or about 44 percent of Mercury's total 89 million outstanding shares.

HP has said the Mercury acquisition would enhance HP's presence in information technology management software and services and could boost HP's annual software revenue to more than US$2 billion. Mercury reported US$843 million in revenue last year, and the company's business optimization software would complement to HP's OpenView systems and network management software product line.

HP chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) Mark Hurd, promoted the pending Mercury acquisition in a keynote address Tuesday at the Oracle OpenWorld convention in San Francisco, saying it would enhance HP's software business.

Despite the repeated delays, HP spokeswoman Emma Wischhusen said HP still expects to complete the acquisition by the end of 2006.

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