MediaFile

from Breakingviews:

Tech services deals count on more with less

Xerox button

The U.S. computer services industry is back in favor, after a decade of struggling to cut costs and compete with offshore firms from India and elsewhere. At least that would be the obvious conclusion to draw from a recent string of multibillion-dollar deals.

Xerox has agreed to buy Affiliated Computer Services for $6.4 billion while Dell is paying $3.9 billion for Perot Systems. They are picking up where Hewlett-Packard left off when it paid $13.9 billion to buy Electronic Data Systems in 2008.

But what's driving these deals is not a bet on the improving growth prospects of the services industry. Instead, the buyers value computer services companies more as sales pipelines for their own products.

Take Xerox, which has struggled for years to move beyond copiers. The idea now is to manage information in both printed and paperless form. ACS is a leader in processing health claims and student loan payments for governments. It helps commercial clients cut the costs of payroll or human resources processing.

So don't think of this deal in terms of the traditional revenue synergies used to justify technology mergers. It's about helping commercial and government clients cut costs, a tight margin business in the best of times.

from Commentaries:

Dell shows discipline in opting for Perot

-- Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --
  
By Eric Auchard

Eric AuchardLONDON, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Dell Inc has made a solid move into computer services by buying Perot Systems, even if the hefty price Dell is paying is hard to justify on Perot's standalone prospects alone. 

And the price looks very rich indeed.  Dell is spending nearly $4 billion in cash -- a premium of 68 percent to Perot stock's recent close -- to buy a slow-growing U.S. computer services firm focused on health care and government clients.
  
That's 1.4 times Perot's expected 2010 sales, or roughly two times more than rival Hewlett-Packard paid when it acquired EDS in a $13.2 billion deal last year.

from DealZone:

Is Dell overpaying for Perot?

With something like $10 billion in cash, Dell wouldn't seem to be stretching itself to buy Perot Systems. But the $3.9 billion it is offering represents a 67 percent premium, so Dell shareholders should probably ask themselves whether Perot's business is worth so much.

Perot is a business service company with a big component dedicated to health information. It was founded in 1988 by Ross Perot -- the same Ross Perot who ran for U.S. president as an independent in 1992 and 1996.

Dell's cash pile is burning a hole in its pocket. It has said it wants to step up acquisitions, and services businesses are a logical target area, with higher margins and steadier revenue than the business of building and selling computers that made Michael Dell (pictured in shades above) the tech mogul he is today.

from Commentaries:

A brutal logic to Dell’s reinvention: Eric Auchard

-- Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

By Eric Auchard

Michael Dell in New DelhiLONDON, July 22 (Reuters) - Dell Inc needs to reinvent itself to cope with falling margins for key products and a spate of mergers which are rapidly reshaping the competitive scene.

So the computer maker's moves into business services that help customers slash costs rather than add new programs look promising, given that every company under the sun is chasing this goal.

The other shift in Dell's favour is that corporate buyers look ready to start spending again on technology to generate new business, albeit at lower levels than before.

from Summit Notebook:

Dell’s enterprise chief pooh-poohs netbooks

Netbooks: flavor of the month? Not according to Dell's Steven Schuckenbrock.

The PC giant's head of enterprise sales was quick to point out flaws in the stripped-down, no-frills mini-computers that have garnered rave reiews for their ultra-portability and anywhere-connectivity.

"Netbooks are a secondary device. The user experience of a netbook is just not as good. It's slower than a conventional notebook computer," Schuckenbrock said at the Reuters Global Technology Summit in New York.

Perhaps that's why Dell was slow to get into a space dominated early on by aggressive Taiwanese upstarts like Asustek. Dell, the once-preminent U.S. personal computer manufacturer, which has steadily given away market share to rivals from Hewlett Packard to Lenovo, unveiled its first netbook only in September.