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Michael Dell's FO considers trimming away gardening asset

By Tess De La Mare

Michael Dell's family office is likely to shed its corporate gardening company this spring in a deal expected to be worth at least $1 billion (€723 million).

Dell, the entrepreneur behind the eponymous software giant, bought ValleyCrest in 2007 for an undisclosed sum via his family office, MSD Capital.

MSD Capital is now considering sale to Brickman, a rival gardening service controlled by US-based private equity firm KKR & Co, allowing KKR to merge the two companies, creating the largest company of this type in the US.

Both ValleyCrest and Brickman offer gardening and landscape services to office gardens, university campuses and theme parks, as well as golf course and park maintenance, lawn mowing and tree pruning.

ValleyCrest saw revenues of $992 million in 2013, while Brickman had sales of $900 million – if they were to merge the new company would have almost 23,000 employees. 

According to the Financial Times, corporate gardening firms are an attractive opportunity for investors because companies are willing to spend to maintain their gardens even when times are tight to prevent putting out an image of decline – KKR bought Brickman for $1.6 billion in late 2013. 

Michael Dell, worth $18.1 billion according to Forbes, founded MSD Capital in 1998, and, in addition to ValleyCrest, has major stakes in Californian bank OneWest, dental practice management company DentalOne Partners, and timber firm TimberStar Southwest.     

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