Legato back up on the block

Storage software and backup vendor Legato Systems has put itself up for sale, according to a report by Reuters.

The once-venerable software firm and maker of the Legato Networker backup and recovery software has hired Morgan Stanley to advise it on possible options. According to reports, the sale could be valued at as much as US$1 billion.

Possible suitors are a panoply of storage vendors, including Veritas Software, EMC, Sun Microsystems, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Computer Associates International and Oracle. Investment advisors SG Cowen Securities indicates that a sale of the company could most threaten Legato's rival, Veritas, because it could strengthen competition for the backup and recovery, as well as e-mail and document archiving market.

S.G. Cowan estimates that the potential value of the sale is 2 to 4 times its estimated value over sales or $6 to $10 per share.

In 2002, Legato acquired OTG Software, a vendor of archiving software used by corporations to track and archive documents required by a variety of government and financial regulations.

Legato also sells NetWorkers and RepliStor, software that transfers data to remote sites to protect it from manmade or natural disaster.

The storage industry of late has been the target of acquisitions and consolidation. Aimed chiefly around gaining storage management expertise, Veritas last year acquired Precise Software and Jareva Technologies. EMC acquired Prisa and IBM/Tivoli snapped up storage resource management company TrelliSoft.

"It's a time right now when midsize storage management companies have to think about their options," says Jamie Gruener, senior analyst with the Yankee Group. "Clearly, the time is right to find a suitor. The list is very long and includes some logical suitors including EMC and Microsoft."

On Tuesday of this week, Legato reported a $10 million loss for the fourth quarter of 2002. In the quarter a year ago, it reported a $47.9 million loss.

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