Icahn Stake in VMware Could Help Derail Dell Deal
The reported stake accumulated by activist investor @CarlIcahn in @VMware looks bullish for the software maker because the billionaire presumably would oppose a potential combination of @DellTechnologies and VMware that is widely disliked by VMware holders. @CNBC reported Tuesday evening that Icahn had accumulated a “medium-sized stake” below the 5% threshold that requires a public disclosure. Icahn didn’t comment to CNBC, and he wasn’t available for comment to Barron’s this morning. VMware shares (ticker: VMW), which have gotten a lift lately following a Bloomberg report that Dell Technologies, the controlling shareholder in VMware with an 81% stake, is leaning against a reverse merger, are up 4% to $137 in early trading. Dell Technologies Class V (DVMT), a tracking stock for VMware, has risen 1.3% to $76.37 as it continues to lag gains in VMware. The tracking stock trades at a near-record 45% discount to VMware, reflecting investor fears about Dell’s intentions for the tracker, which has fewer investor protections than VMware. The private Dell Technologies, headed and controlled by Michael Dell, stated in early February that is weighing a combination with VMware, an initial public offering, or no action. That announcement has put a lid on VMware shares because of concerns that Michael Dell will try to combine the heavily leveraged Dell, which has about $40 billion of core debt, and the cash-rich VMware, which now has a market value of around $55 billion and roughly $8 billion of net cash.