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Data Sheet—Thursday, September 8, 2016

If you were around in the 1980s and following the world of finance, the term leveraged buyout probably calls to mind Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street, or legendary leveraged buyout kings like Carl Icahn and T. Boone Pickens.

Even the largest of those famous deals—the takeover of RJR Nabisco in 1988, in a controversial LBO led by buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts—has been eclipsed by the debt-financed acquisition of EMC by Dell, which officially closed on Wednesday.

The Nabisco deal was worth $55 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars, but the combination of Dell and EMC is worth $60 billion. And more than $40 billion of that is debt.

The acquisition is one of the largest technology deals in history, and also one of the most complex, since EMC has multiple operating units, including VMware. But will it produce enough value to justify the acquisition—and enough cash flow to pay off that mountain of debt?

Dell and EMC are confident it will, obviously, and so are the banks and institutions that arranged that gargantuan debt load. But it’s worth noting that other LBOs have failed spectacularly, and debt commitments were the main reason.

The former holder of the title for largest LBO (in non-adjusted dollars) was TXU Corp., a Texas power company that KKR bought for $45 billion in 2007. It seemed like a great idea, but by 2013 the company was drowning in debt, and was forced to file for bankruptcy protection.

Will the future of a Dell-EMC merger be more favorable? There’s $60 billion riding on the answer to that question. If it does turn out to be smooth sailing, better get ready for a rush of leveraged buyouts in the technology sector.

Mathew Ingram is a senior writer at Fortune. Reach him via email. Share this essay:


It’s true, HP Enterprise is exiting software. After months of rumors, the company acknowledged it’s spinning off some of its software assets, including products from the disastrous $11 billion acquisition of Autonomy in 2011. The deal is worth $8.8 billion; HPE will see about $2.5 billion, while half of the resulting company will be owned by its shareholders. CEO Meg Whitman disclosed the move during its earnings call Wednesday. (Fortune, New York Times, Wall Street Journal)

Here’s why Intel was so interested in keeping the McAfee name. The company is teaming with private equity firm TPG to spin out its security business into an independent company that will be known simply as McAfee unless John McAfee has his way. (The entrepreneur used that name when he founded the company and he wants the rights again.) Intel will get $3.1 billion in cash and keep a 49% ownership stake. (Fortune, Wall Street Journal)

Google gets more time in Europe. EU antitrust officials are giving it two more weeks (until Sept. 20) to respond to charges that the company used its Android mobile operating system to push Google’s own search tools and apps at the expense of rivals. That, in turn, was harmful to consumers, say the commissioners. (Fortune)

IBM dodges fraud claims. A New York judge dismissed two class-action lawsuits related to a $2.4 billion write-down it took in 2014 in connection with the sale of its money-losing semiconductor business to GlobalFoundries. (Reuters)

Box’s next best friend is Google. The cloud file-sharing company is tightening its technical alliance with the Internet giant. Plus, Box CEO Aaron Levie is touting revisions to his company’s core service that will help it bridge even more storage systems, content management software, and cloud apps. (Fortune, Fortune)


Your cheat sheet for that Apple news. So, yes, the tech giant is definitely ditching the headphone jack in its next-generation iPhone models and moving to wireless headphones instead. The upgrade of its mobile software, including an overhaul of Apple Maps, should officially arrive on Sept. 13. Here are three other tidbits disclosed during the company’s Wednesday product introduction:




Former Oracle exec is now CEO of big data upstart MapR. Matt Mills, who joined one year ago after resigning his role on Oracle’s executive committee, replaces the software company’s co-founder John Schroeder, who was named executive chairman. In that capacity, Schroeder will focus on product strategy and customer evangelism. (Fortune)

Meet Polycom’s new CEO. Mary McDowell will take over when the video conferencing company goes private a few weeks from now in a $2 billion deal engineered by equity firm Siris Capital. McDowell’s resume includes posts at Nokia, Compaq, and Hewlett-Packard. (eWeek)

Business upstart Coupa hires new global sales chief. Steve Winter was previously executive vice president of worldwide field operations for marketing software firm Marketo, which went private last month. Coupa specializes in expense management software. (VentureBeat)

Steve Wozniak bets on old automaker for new electric car. The Apple co-founder is opting for a Chevrolet Bolt. He may even ditch his Tesla in the process. (Fortune)

Hey, Tim Cook can actually sing. The Apple CEO hopped a ride to Wednesday’s big product introduction with James Corden, host of “Carpool Karoke.” (CNN)


Meet Michael Dell’s New Tech Behemoth, by Barb Darrow

Why Goldman Sachs Is Giving Away Its Risk Management Software,
by Lucinda Shen

Here’s the One Thing Holding Up a Potential Twitter Acquisition,
by Mathew Ingram

Craiglist Rival OfferUp Is Tech’s Latest Unicorn, by Leena Rao



Marissa Mayer drops off Most Powerful Women list. Mayer was a staple of the Fortune list since 2008, first as a Google exec and then, starting in 2012, as president and CEO of Yahoo. Her plan for a Yahoo turnaround required capital—a lot of capital—which didn’t please Wall Street. Read more about Mayer’s fall from grace. Plus, here’s the whole 2016 list.

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.

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