The idea that Palm might be up for sale won't raise too many eyebrows in the mobile industry, as the company's small scale and size makes it a reasonable target. Indeed, the company has been the subject of buyout rumors for a while, but lately, they've been stoked by stories on a single web site, citing our perennial favorite, "sources close to the situation". The site has now said such a deal could be done by Thursday, the day Palm is due to report its latest quarterly results. Where things start to get silly (beyond the way the press has run with the story) is that it says Nokia is the leading candidate to buy Palm. Such a move really wouldn't make much sense at all, given Nokia's long-standing reliance on Symbian (of which it owns a majority share), and Palm's use of the Palm OS and Windows Mobile. The supposed rationale is that buying Palm would give Nokia an instant foothold in the US market, particularly among enterprise users, but the price being thrown around ($20 per share or more than $2 billion) would let Nokia pay for a lot of marketing and development of its own products, that wouldn't come with the integration and operational hassles. Should a sale finally happen, a private-equity buyout is perhaps the most likely outcome, but Motorola has also been mentioned, and a buyout by it would make much more sense than Nokia. Further confusing that scenario and compounding the silliness, though, is talk that Motorola itself might be up for sale to private equity firms. With a market cap of $45 billion, it would be a monster deal, but its $11 billion cash balance could make it a juicy LBO target. Still, what seems the most likely is that these "sources" are just looking to pump up Palm shares -- after all, they're up about 15% since all this buyout talk started in earnest about a month ago.
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