Who runs mergers and acquisitions at Dell?
(Update: Dell PR misspoke about Johnson’s responsibilities, and we’ve made changes below as indicated.)
Dell, which announced plans to buy Perot Systems for $3.9 billion on Monday, completed the deal without help from an executive in charge of mergers and acquisitions.
It’s a touchy subject for Dell, which earlier this year named David Johnson to its executive team, poaching him from IBM where he served as head of M&A. IBM filed a lawsuit, saying that Johnson violated a non-compete agreement by taking the job with Dell. But IBM failed to persuade a judge to bar Johnson from working at Dell while the litigation is pending.
CEO Michael Dell told reporters on a conference call that Johnson was not involved in the Perot transaction “in any way,” noting that the two companies had held discussions back in 2007, while Johnson was still at IBM. “It was not a new idea,” Dell said. But the discussions heated up again over the summer, after Johnson joined Dell.
Reuters asked Dell spokesman David Frink how Dell could negotiate a $3.9 billion deal, its biggest ever, without involvement from Johnson, its head of M&A. He said that Michael Dell and Chief Financial Officer Brian Gladden had led a group of other executives who worked on the deal.
He added: “We don’t have a head of M&A.”
When asked what Johnson does for Dell, Frink said: “We don’t spending a lot of time talking about what he is focused on”
What is his title? “Head of corporate planning and development,” Frink said.
Does that area include M&A? “Yes.”
Frink initially said Johnson’s job included M&A, but he called back later to say Johnson had no such responsibility. The M&A group reports to Chief Financial Officer Gladden, he added. There still is no head of M&A.