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Dell: The Plot Thickens...

By Oonagh Reidy | Monday | 25/03/2013

Major bunfight for control of PC giant could be coming, as two counter offers to Michael Dell's privatisation plan are revealed.

Private equity group Blackstone are proposing a buyout of Dell, and possibly even boot its Chief Executive Michael Dell in the process.

The Blackstone group and 'activist' investor Carl Icahn have both sent separate proposal to Dell's board to buyout the company for more than CEO Michael Dell is offering, reports The New York Times.

Blackstone's $14.25 a share proposal is a "preliminary plan envisioned offering existing shareholders the opportunity to remain investors in the computer company through what is known as a public stub, though those who wish to sell off their entire holdings can do so" the report states.

Icahn, on the other hand, already a Dell shareholder, is proposing to acquire a 58% stake of the PC giant, is offering highest price to shareholders, at $15 a share.

The move marks counter offers to Michael Dell's move to buyout of all shares of the company he set up in 1984 and go private in conjunction with technology investment firm Silver Lake for $13.65 a share in a deal valued at US$24.4 billion, announced last month.

According to the Times, the letters sent by Blackstone and Mr. Icahn late Friday night, "were meant to keep talks going" among the special committee set up by Dell board to review all possible options, before the date for rival offers to Mr Dell's expired.

Icahn already expressed reservations about Mr Dell's and Silver Lake's merger offer.

Mr Dell owns 16% of the company's shares branded the proposed buyout as opening"  an exciting new chapter for Dell" who recently celebrated its 20th birthday in Oz.

However, investors were far from happy about what they perceive as a too low share value from its CEO, which Dell said was 35 percent more than the closing price of $10.88 on January 11, and undervalues the business and its potential.
And the WSJ points out  "if shareholders vote on an agreement other than Silver Lake's, Mr. Dell has pledged to vote the stake he controls in the company in the same proportion as other stockholders-essentially neutralizing his stake," according the deal's regulatory filing.

The counter bid(s) could be well met among investors looking for a better deal, and Blackstone is already said to have approached technology execs like Mark V. Hurd, current Oracle president, as possible replacement for the top job at world No. 3 PC maker, if Mr Dell opted to leave.

Dell, one of the major causalities of the ailing PC market failed to adapt to the popularity of smartphones and iPads, has recently snapped up a bundle of cloud, software and firms including Wyse Technology and Quest Software in a bid to become a major software player.

Shares in Dell rose to US$14.14 Friday but fell back to $14, where it remains at present.

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