One-Time Dell Nemesis Icahn Takes A Stake In VMware: Report

Carl Icahn, the activist investor who famously clashed a few years back with Dell Technologies CEO and founder Michael Dell, has taken a stake in VMware, a company that may be central to Dell's strategy to unload a massive debt, CNBC reported Wednesday.

Icahn did not have to reveal his investment in VMware publicly because it falls below the SEC-mandated five percent disclosure threshold, according to the news network, which cited unnamed sources.

The report describing Icahn's position as "medium-sized" comes as Dell Technologies continues evaluating the potential for a reverse merger with VMware, of which it owns 80 percent. However, Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Michael Dell's team is backing away from that plan amid opposition from minority shareholders.

[Related: VMware Releases vSphere 6.7, Delivering Advances In Hybrid Cloud And Multi-Application Support]

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Industry experts believe Icahn would almost certainly oppose a reverse merger with VMware, which currently has a market capitalization of roughly $53.72 billion.

VMware and Dell declined CRN's requests for comment. CRN reached out to Icahn for comment and will update this story if we hear back.

Icahn was a vocal and persistent opponent of Michael Dell's efforts to take his namesake company private in 2013, arguing the leveraged buyout undervalued the company.

Icahn, who at the time owned more than 8 percent of Dell, described Michael Dell's plan as a "desperate debacle" and called him a "dictator" in an open letter.

Dell succeeded nonetheless, purchasing the company via a partnership with Silver Lake for $24.9 billion.

Now, to tackle the enormous debt taken on to acquire EMC in 2015, Dell is considering several avenues to again take Dell Technologies public, from an IPO to the reverse merger with VMware.

Following the 2013 financial battle, Michael Dell made no bones about what he thought of Icahn in an interview with Channel Company CEO Robert Faletra.

At the 2014 Best of Breed Conference, Dell told an audience of several hundred of the country's top solution providers that Icahn "is a bad guy."

"He lies. He has no ethical boundaries. He will say anything, do anything. I have no time for him," Michael Dell said of his adversary.