updated 9/21/2009 10:01:00 AM ET 2009-09-21T14:01:00

Dell Inc. plans to buy the technology services company Perot Systems Corp. for about $3.9 billion as it tries to expand beyond the PC business and compete more aggressively with Hewlett-Packard Co. — which also recently bought a tech-services company founded by H. Ross Perot.

Dell said it will offer $30 per share in cash for Perot Systems_ a 68 percent premium over its closing price Friday. Perot Systems' shares rose $11.73, or 65 percent, to $29.64 in morning trading.

Former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot Sr., now 79, serves as chairman emeritus of Perot Systems, which he founded in 1988. He earlier had made a fortune from founding Electronic Data Systems Corp. in 1962 and selling the company to General Motors Corp. in a 1984 deal worth $2.5 billion. Hewlett-Packard bought EDS last year for $13.9 billion.

In a conference call with analysts, Dell's founder and CEO, Michael Dell, said the deal will serve as an "anchor" acquisition for a global information-technology services business. Plano, Texas-based Perot Systems would bring Dell more than 1,000 customers in a wide range of sectors, from government to manufacturing and financial services. About 48 percent of its revenue comes from the health care industry and 25 percent from government. Its customers include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the military.

Analysts have been expecting acquisitions from Round Rock, Texas-based Dell, which hired IBM's former mergers and acquisitions chief this year and has raised almost $1 billion by selling debt securities since March.

The company's revenue comes mainly from the hard-hit PC business, while competitors like HP have a wider set of products and services. As a result Dell's profits have been slumping, down 23 percent in the second quarter.

Following the acquisition, which is expected to close by the end of January, Perot Systems would become Dell's service unit. Dell said it expects additional acquisitions to expand on the business but emphasized that it is looking to hold on to Perot management, including CEO Peter Altabef.

Ross Perot Jr., the chairman of Perot's board, will be considered for a director slot at Dell, the company said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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