NetApp to EMC: That Deal Is Mine

datadomain_logoLike Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson fighting over a girl, storage giant EMC (s emc) and rival NetApp (s ntap) are vying to own Data Domain (s ddup). Today NetApp upped its original bid for the de-duplication company to $30 per share, matching a counteroffer EMC made Monday. The revised NetApp bid increases the price it’s willing to pay from $25 per share, but unlike EMC’s all-cash deal, the NetApp offer is a mix of stock and cash.  It may not be enough to convince shareholders to show EMC the door.

As Om pointed out, Data Domain’s de-duplication technology is hot. EMC may want Data Domain for its technology, but it is also trying to keep its bitter rival from getting it. Regardless of whether or not it succeeds, EMC is driving up the price of Data Domain, and anytime you can steal a deal from rivals or make them pay more money for it, that’s a good thing. But it’s likely that EMC will win, simply because it has more cash to throw at a deal. Ryan Hutchinson, an analyst at Lazard Capital, wrote on Tuesday:

For EMC, the move is likely as defensive as it is offensive. We believe that EMC recognizes the cultural and operational fit between NTAP and DDUP, as well as the potential loss of market share from cross-selling opportunities that would likely arise…Accordingly, we believe both parties could be willing to go higher. However, EMC’s much larger war chest — $7B in short-term cash and investments ($9B including long-term investments) — could deter NTAP from entering a bidding war, and likely prevent NTAP from prevailing even if it chose to do so.

NetApp had $2.6 billion in cash and short-term investments at the end of the first quarter, but it could really use this deal. So we may see this play out for another round.