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Dell CEO Michael Dell wants to make sure there is no misunderstanding about what his company's $24.4 billion private equity bid means to solution provider partners.
When Michael Goldstein, president and CEO of LAN Infotech, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Dell partner, expressed reservations about the deal in a Wall Street Journal story that hit the Web on Sunday night, Dell called him directly to address any and all concerns about the deal.
"Before his call I was worried about how it would affect us," said Goldstein, who was attending UBM Channel's XChange Solution Provider conference in Orlando, Fla., when he got the unexpected call from Dell about 7:15 p.m. Sunday night. "After speaking with Michael, I am comfortable with the deal. As a private company, Dell will be able to expand quicker and make deeper investments in technology and the channel. This is all about building a stronger Dell. This further strengthens my thoughts on sticking with Dell. We are all in with Dell."
Goldstein, who spoke with the Dell founder and CEO for about 25 minutes, said it is important for Dell's CEO to continue to speak with partners and customers on the deal. "Everyday you see something different on this," said Goldstein. "I think it is real important that Michael [Dell] reaches out."
Goldstein isn't the only one the Dell founder is reaching out to in what is shaping up to be an epic battle to take the company private in the wake of objections from activist investor Carl Icahn and major Dell shareholders like Southeastern Asset Management. Icahn Monday entered into a confidentiality agreement with Dell in order to review the Dell private equity bid.
Sources said Michael Dell, who founded the company 29 years ago, is reaching out to dozens of customers and partners to make sure the company does not miss a beat as it moves to close the private equity deal.
Dell partners, for their part, say Dell's bid to take the company private will pave the way for Dell to make bigger investments in research and development, channel sales, and services as well as make additional acquisitions that will strengthen the Dell enterprise solution and services portfolio. What's more, they say, Michael Dell's vision and hands-on involvement in accelerating the company's transformation from one-time desktop kingpin to full enterprise solutions company is critical to the private equity bid.
Bob Venero, CEO of Future Tech, a Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider, spoke with Dell on Monday and said he is certain Dell will flourish more readily as a private company focused on the end-to-end solutions rather than a publicly held company trying to meet short-term sales and earnings targets. He sees Michael Dell's fiery entrepreneurial drive as being better suited to a privately held company.
"The passion, drive and dedication that entrepreneurs like Michael [Dell] bring is best suited to a private company," said Venero. "Michael is trying to unshackle himself from the public investor so the company can make investments for the future. Going private is going to provide him and the company the ability to invest in the longer-term opportunities that are going to reap much better rewards for customers, partners and Dell itself. We have been behind this [going private bid] 200 percent from the beginning."