News Analysis

Dell offer is second multi-billion dollar deal for Ross Perot

Computer maker Dell's offer of $30 a share for computer services company Perot Systems is the second time H Ross Perot has landed a multi-billion dollar deal for a company he started from scratch.

The Dell deal values the firm at about $3.9bn, a substantial premium to the firm's $2.8bn sales for 2008. It will put Dell in competition with IBM, HP and Cisco in the corporate computer services market, provided two-thirds of the shareholders and the anti-trust lawyers agree.

Ex-US marine, former IBM salesman and two-time presidential hopeful Perot (79) started Perot Systems after he sold his original company, Electronic Data Systems, (EDS) to General Motors for $2.5bn in one of the first billion dollar transactions in the computer industry, and one of the least harmonious. EDS is now part of Hewlett-Packard.

Perot, who is frequently pictured on business magazines, was renowned for running his companies with marine-like discipline. He started EDS with a $1,000 loan from his wife, and over the next 22 years built it into a Fortune 1,000 company.

Short hair, good suits, shiny shoes and a penchant for getting the job done on time and on budget were the order of the day, attracting some of the US's top user companies, as well as US Department of Defense customers.

Perot also had a colourful extra-mural life. From 1969 to 1972 he worked to get American POWs out of Southeast Asia, and in 1979 took part in a private mission to rescue two EDS staff held hostage in Iran.

He is the only business personality to win the Winston Churchill Award. He was also the first recipient of the Raoul Wallenberg Award, named after the Swedish diplomat who saved more than 100,000 Hungarian Jews from the Nazis during World War II.

A member of the American National Business Hall of Fame, he also holds the Sarnoff Award for contributions to the electronics industry, the Smithsonian ComputerWorld Award for his contributions to the computer industry, and in 2004 MSNBC.com named him as one of history's 10 greatest entrepreneurs.


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