BOSTON (AP) – IBM Corp. withdrew its offer to buy Sun Microsystems Inc. for about $7 billion this weekend, clouding the prospects for a deal that would have shaken up the computing industry, The Associated Press has learned.

It is not clear whether Sun and IBM will eventually return to their talks, which were in their final stages in recent days. But IBM took its deal off the table this weekend after Sun terminated IBM’s status as its exclusive negotiating partner, according to a person familiar with the situation, who was not authorized to disclose the negotiations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The breakup of the negotiations was first reported Sunday by The Wall Street Journal.

Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM was believed to be offering about $9.50 per share for Sun. That was about double the price the Santa Clara, Calif.-based server and software maker was trading for last month.

Sun was one of the darlings of the dot-com era but spent most of this decade struggling to find its place, wrestling with huge losses and thousands of layoffs. As a result many analysts were not surprised Sun and IBM were in talks.

Sun still owns key server and business-software technologies that might have fit in IBM’s product and services lineup. But a deal likely would have faced antitrust questions.

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