Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce Are these the last days of Novell as we know it?

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After the hedge fund Elliott Associates made known its bid for Novell, at some kind of bargain basement price of under a billion US dollars, it seems unlikely that the company will not be acquired by either the fund or some other suitor who is waiting in the wings.

Elliott's offer of $US2 billion boils down to actually paying about half of that price as Novell is cash-rich and has nearly $1 billion in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments.

As the former editor of Linux Today, the erudite Brian Profitt, points out, Elliott, like quite a good many other hedge funds, behaves like a vulture. It buys companies, dismembers them and sells them for a profit.

There will be no emotion where Elliott is concerned; the fund even purchased debt in a poor country like Costa Rica when it was possible to make a few million there, Profitt writes. In this respect, Elliott appears to follow in the grand tradition of asset management companies like the legendary Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts.

Free software and open source types may agonise over a sale, since one of the better known GNU/Linux distributions, SUSE Linux, is one of the main assets that Novell still possesses.

But Elliott can probably only see dollar signs when it looks at Novell and if the commercial SUSE distribution suffers as a result, I doubt that there would be any tears shed.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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