Iliad’s Xavier Niel buys Orange Switzerland, growing his empire

French telecom tycoon Xavier Niel may have seen his offers for T-Mobile US rebuffed, but it looks like he’s going to get his hands on a mobile carrier after all. Niel’s private holding company NJJ Capital is buying Orange Switzerland for €2.3 billion (U.S. $2.8 billion) and expects to close the deal in the first quarter after getting regulatory approval.

This deal is a bit different from the [company]T-Mobile[/company] bid, since Neil is buying it direct through private equity. Over the summer, French ISP [company]Iliad[/company], which Neil founded and controls, offered to buy Deutsche Telekom’s controlling interest in T-Mobile US, but [company]DT[/company] and T-Mobile turned it down.

Niel has had more luck on Europe where he bought Monaco Telecom from [company]Cable and Wireless Communications[/company] in April. Orange Switzerland, however, is a far bigger prize, and ironically it bears the name of one of Iliad’s biggest competitors in France. Orange Switzerland isn’t part of the [company]Orange[/company] Group anymore. Orange sold its Swiss operations to Apax Partners in 2012 after Apax won a bidding war that included – you guessed it – Xavier Niel. There have also been reports that Iliad is interested in buying French mobile competitor Boygues Telecom, though Niel has downplayed them.

There’s no word yet on what Niel will do with the Swiss mobile carrier if and when the deal closes. In France, Iliad’s Free Mobile has set off a price war, driving down mobile rates across the country. We might see the same thing across France’s alpine border.

iPad cash register maker Revel raises $100M

Revel Systems had something to celebrate today. The maker of point-of-sale terminals announced on Tuesday it has raised $100 million in a Series C round from private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe and other strategic investors.

Avast takes fresh private equity investment at $1B valuation

The Czech security firm Avast, which provides popular consumer antivirus software, has taken an investment from European private equity outfit CVC. The amount has not been disclosed, but Avast says it puts a billion-dollar valuation on the company (perhaps it’s preparing to shop itself around). The company says it will use the cash to beef up its mobile security products and push further into the U.S. and Asian markets in particular. Globally speaking, Avast’s 200 million users give it an antivirus market share just above 15 percent, putting it in second place behind Microsoft(s msft).

Will the last person to leave BMC and Dell please turn out the lights

RIP Dell, and now BMC Software. Both companies were born in Texas in the 1980s and died in 2013. Cause of death: crushed by the public markets. Dell and BMC passed away after a long battle to reinvent themselves in the era of cloud computing and mobile technology. Companies without the legacy baggage they so desperately tried to forget survive them. Memorial service scheduled for whenever the private equity guys show up. No flowers.

Writing an obituary for these two once formidable technology giants seemed unthinkable only a few years ago. But the current shift occurring in the technology industry from PCs and client/server software to cloud computing and mobile devices is very clear. is reportedly bringing in $2 billion in annual revenue from its cloud computing services, a market BMC doesn’t play in; and as more and more computing is done on tablets and cell phones, Dell has struggled to keep up.

But attempting to shed old businesses and retool for the new era of computing was apparently not possible under the scrutiny of the public markets, as both companies went private. Dell and BMC claimed that having to answer to impatient shareholders, SEC disclosures and nagging investors relations people led them to be unable to make good decisions for the longer-term.

In one of many statements about trying to save the company, BMC CEO Bob Beauchamp said:

“BMC believes the opportunity to become a private company will provide additional flexibility and position us to invest more strategically to drive powerful innovation and deliver cutting edge customer solutions.”

Blah, blah, blah…

BMC and Dell apparently saw ending their company’s publicly traded status as the crucial step to survival. Once private they could layoff hundreds and hundreds of employees and whack revenue, hoping to emerge smaller, more nimble and positioned for the new era, something the public markets would not tolerate.

What they failed to consider was the fact that technology companies are about much more than technology – a problem that blinds many tech firms. Just like any other business, they are about the people. And people jump from sinking ships, as fast as they can.

Dell and BMC were unable to retain the talented staff they had and found it impossible to attract new talent amid increasing competition.

When Mark Twain read his own obituary he cabled the Associated Press to tell them: “The report of my death was an exaggeration”. There are plenty of people at Dell and BMC ready to give it the kiss of life. But for now these companies lie in a coma; the prognosis for a recovery in the short term looks bleak. And having delivered over two decades of remarkable innovation, the chances of these companies reviving in time to help deliver a third are receding every day.

McGraw-Hill sells off education unit for $2.5B

Publishing giant McGraw-Hill has announced that it will sell its education division to private equity firm Apollo Global Management for $2.5 billion. The news comes months after the publishing company said it would split its education and financial services units.

Could former Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo take a suffering T-Mobile private?

After leading two international carriers, Sol Trujillo might be coming home. According to Bloomberg, Trujillo is looking to buy T-Mobile USA with the help of private equity. So far he’s hit roadblocks, but if he’s successful he would certainly shake things up at the ailing carrier.