Dell nets Perots another billion

Perot Systems consultancy sold for $3.9bn as IT consolidation continues
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The Independent Online

Ross Perot, the Texan billionaire who twice ran for the US presidency, has made a second fortune, selling his Perot Systems IT consultancy to Dell for $3.9bn (£2.4bn).

The deal, announced yesterday, comes 25 years after Mr Perot sold his first company, EDS, to General Electric for $2.4bn.

Adding a touch of irony to the latest deal, it was the acquisition of EDS by rival Hewlett-Packard last year which bounced Dell into making its offer to Mr Perot, who is now 78, and his son, Ross Perot Jnr, who has been chairman of Perot Systems since his father's retirement.

Together, the Perots control around 25 per cent of the company, and the sale to Dell nets them about $1bn in cash.

As for Dell, the deal dramatically increases its presence in the lucrative market for IT services, which has proved less volatile than the straightforward manufacturing of computers.

All PC makers have been bolstering their services businesses in recent years, and Perot Systems will become Dell's main services division.

The acquisition is the biggest in the company's history, eclipsing the purchase last year of a data storage company, Dealogic, for which it paid some $1.4bn.

"This significantly expands Dell's enterprise-solution capabilities and makes Perot Systems' strengths available to even more customers around the world," Dell's founder and chief executive, Michael Dell, said of the purchase. "There will be efficiencies from combining the companies, but the acquisition makes such great sense because of the obvious ways our businesses complement each other."

Dell is paying a 68 per cent premium to the Perot Systems share price at the end of last week.

Long-term contracts to provide IT services to businesses have shielded Dell's rivals from the downturn in computer sales during the recession, but Dell's profits were down 23 per cent in the second quarter of the year.

Perot Systems was founded in 1988 over a breakfast with eight associates at Mr Perot's home.

Mr Perot has made two presidential bids as an independent candidate, in 1992 and 1996. In his first run, he garnered 19 per cent of the vote from people weary of established politicians and drawn to his promise of balancing the federal budget. Forbes magazine rates him as the 68th richest American, with his only son ranked at number 205.

Ross Perot Jnr was the first person to fly a helicopter around the world, and has expanded the family fortune by investing in property.

Last night, there were concerns about possible insider trading ahead of the announcement of the deal. The volume of options trading, by which speculators hoped to profit from an upcoming spike in the Perot Systems share price, was 242 times larger than normal last Friday, prompting calls for an investigation.