The public-to-private acquisitions of SolarWinds and Dell were part of two banner years for such deals, according to PitchBook data. In 2013, the year of the Dell transaction, firms conducted 17 take-private buyouts involving US IT companies worth a total of $36.7 billion. In 2016, when SolarWinds was acquired, there were 18 deals totaling $35.8 billion. This year, though, such transactions have been almost completely absent. With three quarters almost complete, only three US IT companies have been taken private in 2018 in deals worth a combined $2.7 billion.
That's in line with larger market forces, as take-private buyouts are on pace for a decade low in 2018. But the trend is particularly clear in IT.
SolarWinds makes products used by IT professionals to monitor and manage their systems and infrastructure, claiming 499 members of the Fortune 500 among its clientele (no word on the lone holdout). The company was founded in 1999, went public 10 years later and was listed on the NYSE for seven years until its acquisition. The new IPO filing calls for SolarWinds to return to the NYSE under the SWI ticker symbol.
During its time under private equity ownership, the company has made a series of acquisitions. Those add-ons have helped bolster its bottom line. SolarWinds generated about $422 million in total revenue in 2016, per its SEC filing, and boosted that number to $728 million last year and nearly $400 million during the first half 2018.
For Dell, meanwhile, reports of a possible public listing come less than three months after the company announced plans to return to the public markets as part of a complicated exchange of stock involving VMware, a Dell subsidiary that's currently listed on the NYSE. Hedge funds including Elliott Management have resisted that idea, per Reuters, prompting Dell to contemplate another method of ending its time as a private company.
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