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HP Takes a Dig at Dell -- and Tries to Poach Its Customers

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- HP (HPQ) aimed a dig at rival Dell (DELL) just hours after CEO Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners announced a $24.4 billion deal to take the No. 3 PC maker private.

Clearly seeing a gilt-edged opportunity to feed on any uncertainty surrounding the buyout, HP quickly fluttered its eyelashes in the direction of Dell's customers.

"Dell has a very tough road ahead," HP said in a statement. "The company faces an extended period of uncertainty and transition that will not be good for its customers."

"With a significant debt load, Dell's ability to invest in new products and services will be extremely limited," HP added. "Leveraged buyouts tend to leave existing customers and innovation at the curb. We believe Dell's customers will now be eager to explore alternatives, and HP plans to take full advantage of that opportunity."

Dell's buyout will be financed through a combination of cash and equity from Michael Dell, cash from investment funds affiliated with Silver Lake, cash invested by Michael Dell's investment firm, MSD Capital, and a $2 billion loan from Microsoft (MSFT). The deal will also be financed by a rollover of existing debt, and debt financing from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Credit Suisse and RBC Capital Markets.

HP, of course, is also no stranger to upheaval. In recent years, the company's shareholders have had to deal with a succession of CEO changes, poor execution of its strategy and a massive writedown related to its acquisition of Autonomy. Set against this backdrop, HP shares have tumbled more than 43% over the past 12 months.

HP CEO Meg Whitman has a lot on her plate. Last year, she laid out her turnaround plan for the tech heavyweight. HP says it's on track to complete its restructuring by the end of fiscal 2014. By 2016, Whitman expects to see the company's revenue growing in line with GDP and operating profit increasing faster than revenue.

HP shares gained 2% to reach $16.51 on Tuesday. Dell shares gained 0.8% to reach $13.38.

Dell declined to comment on HP's statement when contacted by TheStreet.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

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