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    Dell confirms it may go public again

    Dell chairman and chief executive Michael Dell
    Simon Dawson/Bloomberg News
    Dell chairman and chief executive Michael Dell

    Maybe the “circus” on Wall Street isn’t such a crazy place, after all.

    Five years after taking his namesake company private to escape the relentless demands for short-term results, Michael Dell is now considering taking Dell Technologies Inc. public.

    In a public filing Friday, he confirmed rumors that had been circulating Wall Street for days: that Dell Technologies is considering either an initial public offering of stock, or combining with VMware, a publicly-traded company mostly owned by Dell.


    The announcement is a big turn for the company behind the 2016 acquisition of Massachusetts tech firm EMC Corp. for $60 billion. Three years earlier, Dell took the Texas computer company he founded while in college private in a $25 billion deal, and afterward spoke of feeling liberated from the “circus” atmosphere of being a public company.

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    He has also said being a private company has made it easier to integrate two massive companies after the EMC deal.

    “We don’t have to cater to the short-term thinking that exists in the market,” Dell said in 2016. “We can think in decades.”

    And in a document filed with regulators Friday, he cautioned that Dell is not necessarily going to make any changes.

    “Nothing has been decided and alternatives are just being considered at this stage. While this process continues, it is business as usual for team members, customers, and partners, with no changes to current structures, practices, and processes,” Dell said.


    Dell acquired its 82 percent in VMware through the EMC acquisition. The California company makes software for data centers, and is currently valued at $49.5 billion. In Massachusetts Dell employs about 8,700 workers.

    Going public would allow Dell and others who hold stakes in his company — including Silver Lake, the private equity firm that helped finance the going-private effort — to cash in.

    However, coming back under the eye of Wall Street would not likely be good news for employees, said Steve Duplessie, who follows Dell EMC as a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group.

    “It’s hard to imagine things would get better. It would only get worse,” he said. “Because once you’re public again, you’re beholden to outside stockholders at 90 day cycles.”

    Dell has paid down a chunk of the debt it took on for the EMC deal, but as of December reported it still has about $45 billion in long-term debt.


    Moreover, the new tax law changes limit deductions on interest payments that corporations can make. But Dell suggested the company’s debt isn’t behind the going-public consideration.

    “We are in excellent financial condition,” Dell said in the filing. “We are also excited about the positive impact of tax reform on the US economy and believe any impact for Dell Technologies, based on what we know today, will be more than manageable.”

    The company declined to comment further Friday.

    Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said Dell wouldn’t think about going public if he wasn’t confident of his company’s business. “The only way you’d go public is if you felt like you had a really good story,” he said.

    Duplessie, on the other hand, suspects Dell would prefer to keep the company private.

    “He really, really likes not having 26-year-old MBAs with a microscope up his backside every 90 days in the form of Wall Street,” Duplessie said. “They like running this company the way they want to run it.”

    Andy Rosen can be reached at