HP wades into Dell's Dell buyout

In a classic case of pot calling the kettle black, the maker of expensive printer ink, HP has waded into Michael Dell for buying his own company back from shareholders.

Dell decided to take itself off the public market in $24 billion plus deal involving private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, and Michael Dell himself.

HP quickly issued a statement which said that Dell has a very tough road ahead. It insisted that Dell faces an extended period of uncertainty and transition that will not be good for its customers.

HP also derided Dell for its “significant debt load” and claimed that the company’s “ability to invest in new products and services will be extremely limited”.

It sanctimoniously said that leveraged buyouts tend to leave “existing customers and innovation at the curb”.

Given that HP is also facing an extended period of uncertainty and transition, this is probably a glass house that the outfit should not be tossing bricks in.

HP shares have plummeted 66 percent over the past three years. The brief reign of Leo Apotheker was cut short in a suicidal charge into the ranks of business software and the mangled company was hurriedly buried under a carpark while a new ruler was found. While Apotheker was on the throne, HP cut its financial outlook three times, quit the webOS business and tried to get out of the PC business entirely.

Meg Whitman has so far not been able to turn the company around. In fact, in November, she wrote down $8.8 billion of the value of Autonomy.

HP faces the same problems that Dell does. During an economic slump, few people want to buy PCs. Neither company managed to hedge its bets by making any impact on the mobile market.

The company said it “plans to take full advantage” of the opportunity to capture Dell customers “eager to explore alternatives”.

Good luck with that. It is unlikely that customers will see the difference between tweedledum and tweedledee.