There's a "50-50 chance" that Dell would be taken private — private equity billionaire Wilbur Ross told CNBC Tuesday, in reaction to reports that the computer maker is in talks with PE firms about a potential $20 billion-plus buyout.
Dell stock soared 13 percent Monday to a near eight-month high on a report from The Wall Street Journal that TPG and Silver Lake Partners could team up on a deal to bring Dell private. JPMorgan Chase & Co is said to be involved in the discussions as well.
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"The real hurdle would be [if] the LBO's leverage sponsors and equity sponsors buy into the theory that it was really going to turn around quickly," said Ross, who specializes in investing in and restructuring financially distressed companies. "Remember [Dell] is a company whose earnings have been in a kind of free-fall," he told "Squawk Box."
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Dell's fortunes are largely tied to the personal computer, which has been losing favor in recent years. But even in the shrinking PC market, Dell has lost share to Hewlett-Packard and China's Lenovo. Market leader HP has a 16 percent share, followed by Lenovo at 15.7 percent, with Dell at a distant third with about 10.6 percent.
Sanford Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi told CNBC on Monday that splitting the company in two — a PC unit and an enterprise business — seems more feasible than an outright sale. Sacconaghi noted that personal computers account for 70 percent of Dell's revenues and about 60 percent of its profits.
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Dell CEO and Founder Michael Dell owns 244 million shares in the company, according to Thomson Reuters data. He ranked No. 22 on the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans with a fortune of $14.6 billion last year.