IBM withdrew its offer to buy Sun Microsystems for about $7 billion over the weekend, clouding the prospects for a deal that would have shaken up the computing industry, AP has learned.

Talks were in their final stages in recent days, but IBM took its offer off the table this weekend after Sun terminated IBM's status as its exclusive negotiating partner, according to two people familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to disclose the negotiations.

One of these people said the two sides were still meeting on Sunday local time.

The breakdown in the negotiations was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Armonk, New York-based IBM was believed to be offering about $9.50 per share for Sun. That was about double the price the Santa Clara, California-based server and software maker was trading for when the discussions leaked last month. Sun shares closed Friday at $8.49.

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 face antitrust questions, and Sun has been pushing IBM to make certain commitments to seeing the deal through such scrutiny.