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Rumor mill in overdrive as Dell pumps up Perot price, Atos offers $4.3bn

Going once, going twice ...

The sale of Dell's hospital IT consulting arm, Perot Systems, has hit a frenzy of speculation, with Atos reportedly leading the pack of companies with a $4.3bn offer.

Dell let companies know it wanted to auction off Perot late last year and put out a $5bn price tag. Since then a series of media leaks have pitched companies against one another in an effort to get the price up.

The main bidders have been Atos, Cognizant, and NTT. They were joined by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) this week, according to leaks, which then reportedly left again after Dell continued pushing its $5bn valuation.

The latest leak that Atos is close to finishing up the deal is presumably intended to push Cognizant or NTT to offer more.

Dell bought Perot Systems – founded by Ross Perot in 1998 – for $3.9bn back in 2009. It is keen to make a good profit on the sale for two reasons: first, it needs to reduce the $50bn in debt it has taken on in order to finance its huge $67bn merger with EMC. The company has already said its focus in the first year of a merged Dell-EMC will be to get the debt burden down and so achieve an investment-grade rating.

Second, Dell needs to look like the kind of company that does a good deal, since the EMC merger is still subject to shareholder approval. A break-even sale of Perot Systems six years after purchasing it does not look great.

No one knows what is really going on behind the scenes, but we can expect another flurry of leaks before Perot Systems finds its new home. ®

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