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Three-month Nasdaq trading in Sun Microsystems

IBM Corp. is close to a deal to buy Sun Microsystems Inc., U.S. media reported Friday.

The two companies, which have been talking since at least mid-March, could announce the deal Friday or early next week, sources told the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press.

The deal could be worth nearly $7 billion US, at a price of around $9.50 for each Sun share.

The combined company would be huge in the mainframe computer market, combining IBM's existing business and Sun's Unix sales.

That could cause antitrust problems, media reports said.

Sun sells software, systems, services, and microelectronics and owns brands like the Java technology platform, Solaris operating system,  MySQL database management system, StorageTek and the UltraSPARC processor.

The bid price of around $9.50 a share is lower than previous speculation, which suggested the deal would be done at $10 to $11 

Company spokespeople would not comment, the Times said. IBM directors have  already approved the deal, the paper's sources said.

Sun stock doubled from almost $4 a share on March 18 as news of the talks became public.

It closed up 27 cents at $8.49 in Nasdaq trading.

IBM rose $1.40 to $102.22 on the New York exchange.