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Palm steps closer to Handspring merger

The handheld maker clears a regulatory hurdle in its bid to acquire rival Handspring and merge the company with its hardware division.

Handheld maker Palm has cleared the last regulatory hurdle in its bid to acquire rival Handspring.

The company said Friday it has completed a government-required waiting period, during which the deal could be held up for further review for antitrust concerns. The deal, which still requires a vote of both companies' shareholders, is slated to close in the fall.

When the deal closes, Palm plans to spin off its PalmSource operating system unit as a separate company and to merge Handspring with Palm's hardware division.

Under the terms of the spinoff, Palm shareholders are entitled to receive about 0.34 of a PalmSource share for each Palm share they own, while Handspring shareholders will get 0.09 of a Palm share for each Handspring share they own but no shares of PalmSource.

Palm announced plans to buy Handspring in June. Palm CEO Todd Bradley will be CEO of the combined hardware company, while Handspring co-founder Jeff Hawkins will be chief technology officer. Handspring CEO Donna Dubinsky will gain a seat on Palm's board of directors but will not have an operational role at the company.

The planned merger comes amid a continued weak market for handhelds and as Handspring readies the launch of its next-generation cell phone/PDA combo device, the Treo 600.