NEW YORK -- Is Big Blue seeking Sun? According to several reports today, IBM is in negotiations to buy Sun Microsystems for a sum that could exceed $6.5 billion.

Reuters, The Wall Street Journal and others are reporting Sun has been looking to be acquired but such a move would require unbundling many of the company's software, hardware and services offerings. The Journal said HP turned down a possible deal for Sun.

A wild card is Cisco, which recently announced plans to enter the data storage market and which has a history of buying and integrating large OEMs such as Scientific-Atlanta, ArrowPoint and WebEx.

The deal, if closed, would be IBM's largest acquisition, and would consolidate the server market. IBM had a 36.3% share in the fourth quarter, while Sun was fourth at 9.3%, according to research firm IDC. HP's share was 29%, Dell's was 10.6% and Fujitsu's was 4.2%.

Neither company is commenting on the rumor.

An EMS industry analyst said Benchmark is the most highly exposed EMS company to a merger. A merger would mean the firm would generate an estimated 25% of its revenue from IBM-Sun, Sherri Scribner of Deutsche Bank Equity Research wrote in a research note today. Celestica would have 15 to 20% of revenue coming from the combined company, and Sanmina-SCI and Flextronics would have 10 to 15%.

"If IBM and Sun were to combine, we would expect a limited impact to our EMS group in the short-term, as both companies heavily rely on outsourcing and options for top-tier EMS suppliers are limited," Scriber wrote. "In addition, enterprise customers are slow to shift away from entrenched hardware, and we would expect IBM to continue to support Sun platforms over the next few years. Over the longer term, we would expect enterprise customers to shift to either IBM or HP platforms. We expect this to be a modest negative to Benchmark, which has high exposure to Sun and limited exposure to HP."

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