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HP Slams $24.4 Billion Dell Private Equity Deal

HP says Dell's ability to innovate will be dampened by what it calls the significant debt load Dell will carry as a private company
HP has slammed Dell's $24.4 billion private equity deal, charging that the "significant debt load" will hurt its rival's ability to "invest in new products and services."

"Dell has a very tough road ahead," HP said in an unattributed statement sent to the press. "The company faces an extended period of uncertainty and transition that will not be good for its customers. And with a significant debt load, Dell's ability to invest in new products and services will be extremely limited. Leveraged buyouts tend to leave existing customers and innovation at the curb. We believe Dell's customers will now be eager to explore alternatives, and HP plans to take full advantage of that opportunity."

HP would not comment on when or whether the company would offer any competitive swap-outs or financial incentives to get partners or customers to replace Dell gear.

Dell Tuesday reached an agreement with private equity firm Silver Lake Partners and other financing companies to go private through a leveraged buyout at $13.65 per share, or $24.4 billion. The deal includes a $2 billion loan from software giant Microsoft along with cash from Silver Lake, MSD Capital and additional financing from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Credit Suisse and RBC Capital Markets.

HP's decision to slam Dell comes as the competition between the two computer giants heats up, with both of them courting solution provider partners with a broader enterprise solutions and services portfolio.
It also comes with HP under fire for its handling of what may well be its biggest bid to transform itself into a software and solutions power with its $11.1 billion acquisition of Autonomy. HP initially characterized the Autonomy deal in August 2011 as cloud computing game-changer.

Last November, still under fire for the high price it paid for Autonomy, HP took an $8.8 billion charge against earnings, alleging "serious accounting improprieties" by Autonomy.

While HP top executives have been reticent to publicly criticize Dell, Michael Dell has repeatedly scoffed at what he has seen as HP's strategic missteps, from HP's decision to consider spinning off its PC business in August 2011 to the HP Autonomy acquisition.

In fact, Michael Dell said last year in an interview with the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph that he was offered a chance to buy Autonomy but rejected it because it was "overwhelmingly obvious" that Autonomy was overpriced.
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