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Blackstone CEO Riffs on the Dell Deal

Schwarzman doesn't paint a pretty picture for the PC industry


As global leaders meet at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, we’ve already seen our fair share of great interviews.

One that particularly caught my eye was from Steve Schwarzman, CEO and co-founder of Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX). His private equity firm manages a whopping $205 billion and its portfolio companies employ more than 730,000 people … so it’s safe to say he has a pretty good pulse on the investing world.

In his interview on Bloomberg TV, Schwarzman provided interesting insights on various investment opportunities. In general, he’s bullish on the U.S. and Asia, and getting more enthused about Europe. But specifically, he talked about the possible leverage buyout of Dell (NASDAQ:DELL).

Schwarzman doesn’t think the talked-about Dell buyout is a sign that mega-deals have returned. A Dell transaction would be fairly unique because the CEO and founder, Michael Dell, has a big stake in the company and has access to large amounts of capital, such as from Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) — thus, there should be no need to raise significant debt financing.

Schwarzman also noted that his firm didn’t even take a look at the deal, primarily because of his bearish stance on the PC market. Margins are thin, primarily because of the intense competition from Asia, and of course there’s the ever-greater competition from Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad and the rest of the charging tablet market.

Keep in mind that the Blackstone CEO has a strong team that constantly looks at major trends; after all, when it comes to executing buyouts, you have to have a long-term perspective. That’s not to say Schwarzman will call it right every time, but he’s not shooting from the hip.

And if you believe Schwarzman is right about the PC business, feel free to worry about the major operators in the space — big names like Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) and Microsoft. Yes, they have other businesses and even growth opportunities outside PCs, but they’re still heavily reliant on that technology. So while they might appear like bargains right now, they might be dead-money investments, with shareholders merely hoping the dividends offset the losses.

Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPO Playbook, a site dedicated to the hottest news and rumors about initial public offerings. He is also the author of “How to Create the Next Facebook” and “High-Profit IPO Strategies: Finding Breakout IPOs for Investors and Traders.” Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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