Michael Dell: Repairing a legacy?

Feb 06 2013, 10:31 IST
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SummaryMichael once gave up control of his company - and everything began to go south.

wants to go up against larger rivals like HP and IBM.

Dell, who has quietly built a highly successful investment firm even as the fortunes of his namesake company have waned, is upping the ante. He will put up more of his own money, contributing his 16 percent share of Dell's equity to the deal along with cash from his private investment firm MSD Capital.

"This is an opportunity for Michael Dell to be a little more flexible managing the company. That doesn't take away from the fact they will have challenges in the PC market like they did before," said FBN Securities analyst Shebly Seyrafi.


Michael Dell started the company in 1984 out of his college dorm room with $1,000, and led it to the top of the PC industry. The TV advertising slogan "Dude, you're getting a Dell" become one of the best-known catch-phrases of the early 2000s.

The company's early successes made him wealthy enough to start MSD Capital, which employs 80 people in three cities who invest his money in everything from stocks to real estate. Forbes ranks him among the world's 50 richest, with an estimated fortune of nearly $16 billion.

But much of his success is still tied to the company he founded, and from which he has not been able to step away.

The first time he handed over the reins was in 2004, when long-time lieutenant Kevin Rollins took over as CEO. The company was on top of its game when Rollins stepped in, but sales and customer service slipped in the ensuing three years, and there was a general sense of relief among investors when Dell reasserted control in January 2007.

"There's been no turnaround and the bottom line is Michael was the one who built the company," Needham & Co analyst Charles Wolf said at the time.

In the six years since Michael Dell resumed leadership, the company's market share has dipped even further, as has its stock. From the start of fiscal 2007 to fiscal 2012, a $100 investment in Dell stock would have shrunk to just $75, including reinvestment of all dividends. That compared with $127 for the S&P500 IT index.

Dell, which derives more than half its revenue from sales of plain-vanilla PCs and servers, is struggling along with the rest of the industry with declining personal computer demand.

Even with the price surge since rumors of a buyout first broke, Dell shares are

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