Since last year, Sun executives had been meeting with potential buyers. I.B.M. stepped up, seeing an opportunity to add to its large software business, acquire valuable researchers and consolidate the market for data center hardware.
In their talks, I.B.M. and Sun had a contract to deal with each other exclusively. Now Sun is free to pursue other suitors, including I.B.M. rivals like H.P. and Cisco Systems. Cisco recently entered the market for server computers.
I.B.M. Withdraws $7 Billion Offer for Sun Microsystems - NYTimes.com
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