Dell deal to go private

New York, Feb. 5: Dell announced on Tuesday that it had agreed to go private in a $24.4-billion deal led by its founder and the investment firm Silver Lake, in the biggest leveraged buyout since the financial crisis.

Under the terms of the deal, the buyers' consortium, which also includes Microsoft, will pay $13.65 a share in cash. That is roughly 25 per cent above where Dell's stock traded before word emerged of the negotiations of its sale.

Michael S. Dell will contribute his stake of roughly 14 per cent toward the transaction, and will contribute additional cash through his private investment firm, MSD Capital. Silver Lake is expected to contribute about $1 billion in cash, while Microsoft will loan an additional $2 billion.

Dell's board is said to have met on Monday night to vote on the deal. In its statement, the company said Dell recused himself from any discussions about a transaction and did not vote.

As a newly private company ' now more firmly under the control of Dell ' the computer maker will seek to revive itself after years of decline. The takeover represents Dell's most drastic effort yet to turn around the company he founded in a college dormitory room in 1984 and expanded into one of the world's biggest sellers of personal computers.

But the advent of new competition, first from other PC manufacturers and then smartphones and the iPad, severely eroded Dell's business. Such is the concern about the company's future that Microsoft agreed to lend some of its considerable financial muscle to shore up one of its most important business partners.

"I believe this transaction will open an exciting new chapter for Dell, our customers and team members," Dell said in a statement. "Dell has made solid progress executing this strategy over the past four years, but 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."

Still, analysts have expressed concern that even a move away from the unyielding scrutiny of the public markets will not let Dell accomplish what years of previous turnaround efforts have failed to achieve.

Nevertheless, the transaction represents a watershed moment for the private equity industry, reaching heights unseen over the past five years. It is the biggest leveraged buyout since the Blackstone Group's $26 billion takeover of Hilton Hotels in the summer of 2007, and it is supported by more than $15 billion of debt financing raised by no less than four banks.