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Dell Buys Perot as Deal Season Opens

Stocks in this article: DELL

Updated with new stock price

ROUND ROCK, Texas ( TheStreet) -- Dell (DELL) is following Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and IBM (IBM) into services with a $3.9 billion all-cash deal for Perot Systems (PER).

The move, announced Monday, comes after more than two years of overhaul efforts to revitalize Dell's slumping PC business. With Perot Systems, Dell hopes to expand beyond its hardware focus into IT services in growth regions like China. The deal also puts Dell in line to capture an upswing in health-care spending as reformers call for sweeping digitization of medical records.

The deal is "about expanding opportunities on a geographic basis," said Michael Dell during a CNBC interview Monday. PC rivals IBM and H-P have spent the past few years broadening their businesses into technology services like information systems design, consulting and network management.

Dell's deal for Perot mirrors H-P's big shift into IT services last year, when it bought EDS for $13.9 billion.

Perot Systems is the largest acquisition since founder Michael Dell returned to lead the company in 2007. The company has had about eight acquisitions in the past three years, said Dell. When asked if Perot would end the company's acquisition streak, Dell said "I would look for more."

The deal is seen as another sign that merger and acquisition trends may be heating up in the tech sector, where large players have socked away cash over the past several years.

Dell wasn't stingy with its offer. The $30-a-share bid was an eye-popping 67% premium over Perot's closing stock price of $17.91 Friday.

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