Tandem is expected to reveal the identity of the buyer of its UB Networks subsidiary within the next fortnight, with speculation centring on Compaq as the most likely suitor.
Clive Brooke, UK MD of UB Networks, confirmed a takeover was imminent, but refused to name names.
"There have been a number of interested parties with whom we've had deep and meaningful discussions," he said. "But our uppermost consideration in choosing a partner is that our customers should benefit. I am confident all of them will view the new partnership very positively."
UB Networks is a subsidiary of high-end server company Tandem. After months of rumours Tandem admitted in October it was having talks with potential buyers of UB Networks. The announcement followed publication of Tandem's year-end results, which showed a $23 million (#14.3 million) loss. In common with many players, Tandem is now trying to reposition itself as an Internet company.
Analysts have suggested Compaq would be the most suitable partner for UB Networks because of its efforts to broaden its focus to include networking.
"Compaq is certainly top of the list," said Richard Buckley, an IDG analyst.
"I'd be very surprised if it was anyone else."
Although Compaq dismissed the rumours as "pure industry speculation", there are strong indications the company is in the market for acquisitions of this kind.
Compaq's Doug Pushard, then vice president of the company's networking operations, told PC Week in September that he expected to announce "important strategic acquisitions" before the end of the year. "There will also be new partnerships in the fourth quarter and in early 1997, focusing on building open communications platforms," he added.
Compaq has adopted an aggressive stance towards the networking market during the past year. The firm broke into the router market in September, and last autumn acquired network companies Thomas Conrad and Networth.
UB Networks would be a plum catch for Compaq, which needs to get its hands on as much networking technology as possible to meet its target of being third largest computer company by the year 2000. Although parent Tandem is suffering, UB is still among the top five vendors in most sections of the high-end hub market. There are other suitors, including HP, Intel and IBM, but Compaq has the necessary clout and will be very determined to win over a wavering UB.
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