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HP Enterprise said to be near deal for supercomputer maker Cray

(Bloomberg) --Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. is in advanced talks to acquire U.S. supercomputer maker Cray Inc., according to people with knowledge of the matter.

A deal could be announced as soon as this week, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Shares of Cray have risen 11% in the past year, giving it a market value of about $1.2 billion.

Buying Cray would help HP Enterprise strengthen its position in high-end computer systems against International Business Machines Corp. The purchase could become HP Enterprise’s biggest since it started trading in 2015, surpassing its acquisition of Nimble Storage Inc. for about $1 billion more than two years ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

No final agreements have been reached, and the timing could still be delayed, the people said. A spokeswoman for HP Enterprise declined to comment, while a representative for Cray didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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HP Inc. signage stands on display outside the company's headquarters in Palo Alto, California, U.S., on Monday, May 28, 2018. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

HP Enterprise has mostly been paring down since it was created from the breakup of Hewlett-Packard Co. In 2017, it completed a spinoff and merger of its enterprise services business with Computer Sciences Corp. It’s also separated some software assets in an $8.8 billion deal with U.K.-based Micro Focus International Plc.

Loss-making Cray traces its roots back to a company founded in 1972 by Seymour Cray, known as the “father of supercomputing.” This month, it signed a deal with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory to build a new $600 million system for research on artificial intelligence, weather, subatomic structures, genomics and physics.

HP Enterprise’s own high-end computer systems are used by the University of Notre Dame, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and chemical giant BASF SE, according to its website. Last year, it won a $57 million contract to provide supercomputers to the U.S. Department of Defense for helicopter design and weather forecasting.