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Dell to go private in $24.4B deal led by founder

February 6, 2013
By MICHAEL LIEDTKE , THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SAN FRANCISCO - Slumping personal computer maker Dell is bowing out of the stock market in a $24.4 billion buyout that represents the largest deal of its kind since the Great Recession dried up the financing for such risky maneuvers.

The complex agreement announced Tuesday will allow Dell Inc.'s management, including eponymous founder Michael Dell, to attempt a company turnaround away from the glare and financial pressures of Wall Street.

Dell stockholders will be paid $13.65 per share to leave the company on its own. That's 25 percent more than the stock's price of $10.88 before word of the buyout talks trickled out three weeks ago. But it's a steep markdown from the shares' price of $24 six years ago when Michael Dell returned for a second go-round as CEO.

Article Photos

AP PHOTO
In this March 26, 2009, file photo, Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell Inc., reacts to a question during a press conference in Beijing, China. Slumping personal computer maker Dell announced Tuesday, it is bowing out of the stock market in a $24.4 billion buyout that represents the largest deal of its kind since the Great Recession dried up the financing for such risky maneuvers. billion. Michael Dell, who owns nearly 16 percent stake in the company, will remain the CEO after the sale closes and will contribute his existing stake in Dell to the new company.

Dell shares rose 14 cents to $13.41 in afternoon trading, indicating that investors don't believe a better offer is likely.

The chances of a successful counter offer look slim, given the forces lined up behind the current deal.

Michael Dell, the company's largest shareholder, is throwing in his 14 percent stake and an undisclosed sliver of $16 billion fortune to help finance the sale to a group led by the investment firm Silver Lake.

"We recognize that (transformation) 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," Michael Dell said in a statement.

Software maker Microsoft, which counts Dell among its biggest customers, is backing the deal by lending $2 billion to the buyers. The remaining money to pay for the acquisition is being borrowed through loans arranged by several banks, saddling Dell with an estimated $15 billion in debt that could raise doubts about its financial stability among its risk-averse corporate customers.

The sale is structured as a leveraged buyout, which requires the acquired company to repay the debt taken on to finance the deal.

Dell's sale is the second highest-priced leveraged buyout of a technology company, trailing the $27 billion paid for First Data Corp. in 2007.

The deal is the largest leveraged buyout of any type since November 2007 when Alltel Corp. sold for $25 billion to TPG Capital and a Goldman Sachs subsidiary. Within a few months, the U.S. economy had collapsed into the worst recession since World War II.

Dell's decision to go private is a reflection of the tough times facing the personal computer industry as more technology spending flows toward smartphones and tablet computers. PC sales fell 3.5 percent last year, according to the research group Gartner Inc., the first annual decline in more than a decade. What's more, tablet computers are expected to outsell laptops this year.

 
 

 

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