HP appears to have trumped Dell in the contest for data storage firm 3Par with a $1.6 billion bid, $400 million more than the Dell offer.
In a regulatory filing, 3Par said it would enter negotiations with HP over its counter-offer, which it believes to be a superior proposal to Dell's.
But the board is for the time being maintaining its recommendation that shareholders accept Dell's offer.
Nancy Havens-Hasty - president of merger arbitrage fund Havens Advisors - told Bloomberg a Dell counter-offer was already in the pipeline, while the New York Times predicted rivals like Oracle might yet look to get in on the action.
Any new bidders must aim high, though. HP’s offer of $24 per share is already some 150% higher than 3Par’s share price before Dell announced its $18 per share deal last week, the NYT said.
3Par is regarded as one of the last high-end data storage providers, and could be a key asset in Dell and HP’s battle to dominate the cloud computing market and take on rivals including Oracle and IBM.
The bidding war comes during a period of increasing merger and acquisition activity. Intel last week announced a $7.68 billion takeover of security software firm McAfee.