Dell clears up its financial future, will sell shares to public while maintaining stake in VMware

Dell Technologies chairman and CEO Michael Dell (Dell Technologies Photo)

Five years ago, Michael Dell took his pioneering PC and server company private, citing a desire to avoid the short-term thinking that can consume public companies. Dell Technologies will return to the public markets later this year with the sale of a tracking stock issued to its private shareholders that values the company at a 29 percent premium over the last closing price of those private shares.

Dell announced the move Monday morning following a “strategic review” of its financial situation undertaken earlier this year. Dell shares will be issued on the New York Stock Exchange at a price that values the company somewhere between $61 billion and $70 billion, it said in a press release.

This complicated and expensive deal — including the huge $67 billion acquisition of the EMC group of companies in 2016 — is essentially a bet that enterprise technology customers aren’t going to move their workloads to public cloud providers as fast as some thought five or so years ago. That trend toward the cloud definitely continues, but hybrid cloud has emerged as a viable strategy for IT organizations that don’t want to put everything in the hands of a third party. Dell sells the servers, storage, and networking equipment that those companies can use to modernize their in-house data centers.

Dell released some financial information along with the stock announcement: revenue was up 19 percent year-over-year during the last quarter at $21.4 billion. The company is not profitable according to traditional accounting methods, but is generating cash, and it has reduced the massive debt incurred to buy EMC by $13 billion.

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