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Hewlett-Packard formally announced that it has reached an agreement to sell Palm to HP for $5.70 per share, or around $1.2 billion total. The deal came as a surprise to Silicon Valley gossips who were sure HTC or Lenovo would acquire Palm. (VentureBeat writers suggested that RIM and LG consider Palm, but we didn’t expect either of those deals to happen.)

HP, the world’s largest technology company with over 300,000 employees worldwide, plans to use Palm’s technology to “enhance HP’s ability to participate more aggressively in the fast-growing, highly profitable smartphone and connected mobile device markets.” So far, HP has never sold a mobile phone.

HP conducted a webcast with investors at 2 PM Pacific Time, hosted by Todd Bradley, the head of HP’s Personal Systems Group — and formerly Palm’s CEO himself.

Update: Here’s our story on the conference call. The big message: The deal isn’t just about smartphones, but tablets and netbooks too.

In our other coverage of the acquisition, we’ve also looked at what the deal says about Palm investor Elevation Partners (with some math showing how Elevation made $25 million), its impact on the broader mobile landscape, and how the deal makes sense given Todd Bradley’s history with HP and Palm. We also discuss what the deal says about HP’s tradition of innovation.

Don’t miss MobileBeat 2010, VentureBeat’s conference on the future of mobile. The theme: “The year of the superphone and who will profit.” Now expanded to two days, MobileBeat 2010 will take place on July 12-13 at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Early-bird pricing is available until May 15. For complete conference details, or to apply for the MobileBeat Startup Competition, click here.

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