Wall Street Beat: Rise in markets could fuel tech M&A

Confidence in the economy will help companies value bigger deals

By , IDG News Service |  IT Management

The Dell $24.4 billion privatization deal, first announced in February, made headlines again Friday. Investor Carl Icahn and Southeastern Asset Management sent a letter to company management countering Michael Dell's plan to go private with an offer that would give shareholders a large payout and still keep the computer company publicly traded.

The original deal calls for Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners to buy the company with, in part, a $2 billion loan from Microsoft and debt financing. Dell is betting that operating outside the scrutiny of Wall Street, it will be better able to execute its strategy to push into high-margin products and services.

Meanwhile, Dell announced it has purchased Enstratius, which develops software to let customers manage cloud resources across multiple providers, for an undisclosed sum.

On Monday, Intel subsidiary McAfee announced plans to acquire Stonesoft, a Helsinki-based maker of firewalls, for $389 million in cash. McAfee noted that firewalls are a quickly growing segment of the network security industry and an area it plans to focus on.

In addition,Intel on Thursday announced two smaller acquisitions as it extends its product lines to software development and management tools. Intel said it is acquiring Belfast-based Aepona and San Francisco-based Mashery, which collectively offer software to help businesses manage APIs (application programming interfaces) and monetize services based on customer location and device type.

There are also some big rumored M&A moves in the works. A year after investing $300 million in Barnes & Noble's plan to spin off its Nook business, Microsoft is reportedly thinking of offering $1 billion for Nook Media, according to TechCrunch and other published reports. Although sources cited by The New York Times stressed the deal is not certain, such a move would fit into Microsoft's plan to offer a portfolio of digital services.

Another billion-dollar deal reportedly in the making is a Facebook offer to acquire the Israeli-based Waze crowd-sourced mapping and traffic app. Facebook is considering the move to enhance its efforts in mobile, according to Israeli business site Calcalist.

This week's M&A news may be a portent of things to come.

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