SunGard buys Comdisco services division

Financial services company SunGard Data Systems Inc. bought the availability services division of bankrupt computer leasing company Comdisco Inc. on Thursday. SunGard's US$825 million offer topped a competing bid of $610 million made by Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) in August.

Comdisco's services division, which helps companies prepare for disaster recovery, has been in the spotlight since the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. Comdisco and SunGard have both provided disaster-recovery services for businesses affected by attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon building near Washington, D.C.

HP wanted to integrate Comdisco's technology unit into the HP Operations segment of its HP Services division, to compete with IBM Corp.'s business services unit and other major services competitors, HP said when it made the bid. Comdisco's Availability Solutions consulting business employed 1,300 worldwide in August, with revenue of $126 million for the third quarter ending June 30.

SunGard initially offered $775 million and also objected to HP's and Comdisco's bidding procedures that were proposed to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. The court ultimately approved Comdisco's plans after it said other offers could be made during the bidding period and that it would hold an auction Oct. 11 to see if other bids could meet HP's. SunGard's purchase is subject to court approval in a hearing scheduled for Tuesday, and HP's offer will remain in effect until Dec. 19 if SunGard fails to complete the deal.

Comdisco plans to sell SunGard its Availability Solutions business in the U.S. and the stock of its subsidiaries in France, Britain and Canada, but not its holdings in Germany and Spain, nor its Network Services and IT CAP Solutions assets.

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