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Dell in $24.4B founder-led deal to go private
Question of the Day
By becoming a major Dell backer, Microsoft could gain more influence in the design of the devices running on a radically redesigned version of Windows that was released in late October. The closer ties with Dell, though, could poison Microsoft’s relationship with HP, the largest PC maker, and other manufacturers that buy Windows and other software.
In a statement, Michael Dell said that while the company has made progress, turning it around will be easier under private ownership.
“We recognize that it will still take more time, investment and patience, and I believe our efforts will be better supported by partnering with Silver Lake in our shared vision,” he said.
As a private company, Dell won’t have to pander to the stock market’s fixation on whether the company’s earnings are growing from one quarter to the next.
Taking the company private is a major risk, however. It will leave Dell without publicly traded shares to entice and reward talented workers or to help buy other companies.
As part of its shift toward business software and technology services, Dell already has spent $9 billion on acquisitions in the past three years.
Leveraged buyouts also require companies to earmark some of their incoming cash to reduce the debt taken on as part of the process of going private. The obligations mean Dell will have less money to invest in innovation and expansion of its business.
The buyout will mark a new era in another technology company that began humbly and matured into a juggernaut.
With just $1,000, Michael Dell, then a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin, started his company as “PCs Limited” in his dorm room. He would go on to revolutionize the PC industry by taking orders for custom-made machines at a reasonable price _ first on the phone, then on the Internet.
Initially valued at $85 million in its 1988, Dell went on a growth tear that turned the company into a stock market star. At the height of the dot-com boom in 2000, Dell was the world’s largest PC maker, with a market value of more than $100 billion.
But Dell began to falter as other PC makers were able to lower their costs. At the same time, HP and other rivals forged relationships with stores that gave them the advantage of being able to showcase their machines. By 2006, HP had supplanted Dell as the world’s largest PC maker.
With its revenue slipping, Dell’s market value had fallen to $19 billion before the mid-January leaks about the buyout negotiations.
AP Business Writer Michelle Chapman and AP Technology Writer Peter Svensson in New York contributed to this story.
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