Dell + (EMC+VMW) = A $67B Gamble!

Yesterday, Dell announced the largest technology M&A in history with a proposed$67B buyout of EMC and VMware (via EMC’s 80% ownership of VMW). The combined company will have over $80B in revenue, employ tens of thousands of people around the world and sell everything from PCs, servers & storage to security software and virtualization software. Not to be overlooked is the fact that Dell and EMC will be private companies and free from the scrutiny of activist investors.

Dell has to borrow a ton of money to make this deal, like $40B debt. The annual interest payment will be $2.5B! This deal has three entities – Michael Dell’s own investment, Silverlake Partners, and Singapore based Tomasek. On paper this seems like the two companies bring complimentary values – Dell sells to small to medium size companies and EMC addresses the larger enterprise needs. The big attraction for Dell is the VMWare piece that revolutionized the desk-top virtualization market. Currently VMWare is 25% of EMC’s revenue, but 50% in valuation.

The concern is that as more corporations adopt cloud storage and cloud computing for their IT needs, there is less reason to spend money on the costly software and hardware upgrades typically offered by established IT companies like EMC. But by consolidating, they can better compete against the lower-cost cloud service companies – AWS (Amazon Web Services), IBM, Alphabet (Google), and Microsoft Azure.

This is going to be a big gamble. The HP CEO circulated an internal memo suggesting how this will be great opportunity for HP, as the combined company will create a lot of chaos and confusion. At the same time, being private, the new entity can execute radical restructure. But this will be a herculean task to make the combined company a winner in the highly competitive “IT infrastructure” market.

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