When Michael S. Dell took his namesake technology company private in 2013, he said that doing so would give him the freedom to prepare it for a future that stretched well beyond personal computers.
Having expanded Dell into a huge one-stop technology shop for businesses, he and his financial partner, the investment firm Silver Lake, plan to bring the company back to the public markets — albeit in a complicated fashion that keeps them firmly in control.
Mr. Dell and Silver Lake are expected to announce as early as Monday that they have struck a $21.7 billion deal to buy out investors in a special class of shares created in 2016 to help Dell buy the networking company EMC. That stock effectively tracks the performance of Dell’s 82 percent stake in VMware, the fast-growing network software company that Dell inherited when it bought EMC. (The other 18 percent of VMware is publicly traded as a different stock.)
The deal, which was approved by the boards of Dell and VMware on Sunday evening, would simplify the stock structure of Dell and its publicly traded subsidiary. But it would also mark the return of Dell to the public markets, with a twist: The special shares held by Mr. Dell and Silver Lake would give them more votes than other investors.
The transaction represents in some ways the culmination of a nearly $100 billion bet by Mr. Dell and Silver Lake that, away from the harsh glare of public markets, they could retool a company best-known for making personal computers and traditional servers for an age of smartphones and cloud computing. Dell still supplies the machines that sit on the desks inside many office buildings, and has also found a ready market selling equipment and software to the kinds of networked computing services that were once thought to spell its end.
“In 2012, people were saying the PC was dead. It wasn’t,” Mr. Dell said in a telephone interview. “Three years ago, people were saying that everything’s going to the public cloud. Turns out that was completely wrong, too.”
It was an expensive wager, with Mr. Dell and Silver Lake spending roughly $25 billion to take Dell private, and then $67 billion to buy EMC — a transaction that created a kind of one-stop shop for hardware and software needed by companies to run their businesses.
Dell has increased its share of both the PC and the server markets. The research firm IDC estimated that Dell’s worldwide server revenue jumped more than 50 percent in the first quarter, taking the top spot from the longtime sector leader Hewlett Packard as it sells more equipment to cloud service providers. Dell also moved into the top spot in United States PC shipments in the first quarter, according to estimates by the research firm Gartner.
And Mr. Dell has pushed the company into areas like internet-connected devices and artificial intelligence
Follow Michael J. de la Merced on Twitter: @m_delamerced .