Dell adds VC hotshot to board

Floats some notes, builds war chest


Dell has appointed Accel Partners managing partner Jim Breyer to its board of directors while adding another $500m to its war chest.

The venture capitalist will take his seat immediately, and will stand for election at Dell's annual shareholder meeting in July.

Breyer, who is 47, has watched over the investments in more than 30 tech companies, including Web 2.0 darling Facebook, where he sits on the board, as well as in Agile Software, Foundry Networks, Hyperion Solutions, Macromedia, RealNetworks, and RedBack Networks.

Breyer sits on the boards of retail giant Wal-Mart and comic book, movie, and game maker Marvel Entertainment. After getting his bachelor's from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard University, Breyer worked as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company and then did various product marketing and management jobs at Apple and Hewlett-Packard before joining Accel, which has backed a very large number of tech companies over its 25-year history. I counted 231 on that page, and you will recognize a very large number of them.

"Jim has extensive experience in strategic planning and finance, as well as capital markets and emerging companies," said Michael Dell, chairman and chief executive officer at the company that bears his name in a statement. "That insight will be extremely valuable as we enhance our capabilities on behalf of customers and drive to long-term growth."

Back in February, Dell announced that two board members, Michael Miles and Alan Lafley, would be leaving in July. Miles, who is 68 and who has been on the Dell board since 1995, is the former chairman and CEO at Philip Morris, while Lafley, who is 60, is chairman and CEO at Proctor & Gamble.

In a separate matter, Dell said it has entered into underwriting agreements with Banc of America Securities, Morgan Stanley, and UBS Securities to issue and underwrite $500m in notes, which were sold on April 6. The notes pay out 5.625 per cent and are due in 2014.

Dell has not said precisely how it intends to use the $500m, but has been pretty clear that it wants to make acquisitions to bolster its position in the IT space. In the quarter ended January 30, Dell had $8.35bn in cash and equivalents and another $740m in short-term investments which washes pretty nicely against $113m in short-term debt and $1.9bn in long-term debt. With the notes that were just floated, Dell now has a $7.58bn war chest.

That's enough to try to buy Sun Microsystems, if Dell decided to suddenly and completely change its spots. Don't hold your breath. But if Sun is broken up and its bits sold off, don't be surprised when Dell does try to get bits of it. ®


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