Exabyte gets gobbled up

Tape storage systems maker Exabyte Corp. announced Wednesday that it is being purchased by video conferencing systems vendor Tandberg Data Corp. for approximately US$28 million.

Exabyte, founded in 1987 and one of the last remaining independent tape library manufacturers, had put itself up for sale exactly two months ago.

The acquisition by Tandberg, a Poway, Calif.-based, wholly-owned subsidiary of Tandberg Data ASA, in Oslo, Norway, is scheduled to close the deal pending approval of Exabyte common shareholders in October or November, Exabyte said. Exabyte said it intends to liquidate and dissolve immediately after the closing of the transaction.

All Exabyte employees will be offered positions with Tandberg, and it is expected that Exabyte management will continue as well, Exabyte said.

Exabyte's end is indicative of how the tape market is headed right now, said Robert Amatruda, an analyst with IDC in Framingham, Mass. A number of the other companies in the tape marketplace have either been purchased or are in partnerships with larger companies such as Dell, Hewlett Packard Co. IBM and EMC. Smaller tape manufacturers have difficulty gaining access to the market and to customers, Amatruda said.

Amatruda said the merger with Tandberg is more positive than if Exabyte filed Chapter 11, adding that Tandberg is likely looking at the deal to give it a U.S. distribution channel, he said.