Dell buyout turns into the tragedy of Macbeth

It seems that the sale of Dell is becoming a bit like Shakespeare’s Macbeth with Dave Johnson cast in the role of Thane of Cawdor conspiring to take the throne from King Michael “Duncan” Dell.

Johnson was once Dell’s confidante and former employee and is now leading Blackstone Group’s 11th-hour bid for Dell. His plan is to take over the company without Dell and stop Dell’s cunning plan to take the company private for $24.4 billion.

IBM unsuccessfully sued Johnson when he departed in 2009, alleging he violated a non-compete agreement. 

Michael Dell told his executive team that Johnson would remain a close and personal adviser when he left to join Blackstone in January, but is now finding that he has been listening to witches who want his job.

So far, Johnson has not mentioned a role for his former boss and this means that Dell could lose control of a company he nursed from a dorm-room operation into a global PC maker.

Johnson oversaw Dell’s 2009 purchase of Perot Systems which put Dell into the technology services market alongside IBM and HP. Other deals during his tenure included Quest Software, SecureWorks, SonicWall and Wyse Technology.

But there was a little bad blood in his exit from Dell. Johnson left Dell alienated, and some members of top management were unhappy with his track record.

Michael has to see off another competing offer from billionaire investor Carl Icahn, whose forces are dressing up as trees, because Icahn has branches everywhere.

Meanwhile Blackstone has been having a quiet word to candidates who could run Dell should its bid succeed, replacing Michael Dell.

But all is fair and all is foul in the IT business, and there are many within the business community who think Dell is a tale told by an idiot and as soon as someone says “out, out, damn spot” to him the better.

According to Reuters, Dell said he feared that Blackstone’s buyout offer would dismantle the PC maker’s kingdom. Other people familiar with the situation have said Blackstone wants to flog Dell’s financial services business as part of a strategy to turn things around.

All he is looking for is a blasted heath, which is always going to be better than a bloody Cameron.