Update: Dell's deal was completed Tuesday morning. You can read more about this in "Dell Reaches $24.4 Billion Deal to Go Private."
According to multiple reports, Dell founder Michael Dell is close to finalizing a $23 billion deal to take his company private. Founded 30 years ago, Dell is still one of the biggest PC makers in the world and has made successful forays into servers and related services. But Dell missed the boat on mobile devices, and the firm has become a takeover target.
Dude, you’re getting … Dell.
To finance the deal and shelter his company from a takeover, Mr. Dell will pour his entire 16 percent stake in Dell plus “hundreds of millions” of its personal fortune into the effort. This will be backed by financing from private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners and four banks, plus an estimated $2 billion from Microsoft. It will be the most complex—and, by far, the most expensive—such deal since the worldwide financial crisis.
Dell is still one of the biggest PC makers in the world, though it has slid to third place in worldwide sales behind HP and Lenovo. More problematic, the firm’s market capitalization has slid from a heady $120 billion in 1999 to about $23 billion today as its stock price has plummeted. With Dell shares selling for less than $10 by late 2012, the firm became an attractive takeover target.
Mr. Dell’s plan to take his company private is risky but it will allow him to retake control of Dell and drive strategy without answering to shareholders or Wall Street analysts, many of whom endlessly compare his firm to higher-flying device makers like Apple.
Indeed, when asked what he’d do if he were the CEO of the then-nearly-bankrupt Apple way back in 1997, Mr. Dell infamously answered that he would “shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders,” a comment he says was “misconstrued.” (He meant only that he couldn’t imagine being CEO of any company other than Dell.) But the reversals of fortune of the two companies since then couldn’t be starker. And while unforgiving Apple fanboys still gloat about Dell’s comments—perfectly reasonable in the day, to be honest—he’s still bothered by the misunderstanding. Mr. Dell was a “friend” of Apple’s then-CEO Steve Jobs, he says, and he has “tremendous respect for Apple.”
As for Microsoft, it has been widely reported that its estimated $2 billion stake in the new Dell would ensure a certain level of Microsoft-centricity from the firm. I assume that means that Dell will back Microsoft smartphone and tablet initiatives as it tries to catch up in these markets which, thus far, have eluded it. But Microsoft isn't expected to get seats on the Dell board or any governance rights. For more information, see "Microsoft Reportedly Will Invest in Dell Privatization."