Michael Dell May Lose Control Of PC Maker After Two Competing Buyout Bids Emerge

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Dell’s board is looking at two surprise takeover bids from Blackstone Group and billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn, reports Reuters citing sources close to the discussion. A special committee is deciding whether either proposal would trump an existing $24.4 billion buyout offer from the PC maker’s founder Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake.

The new bids mean that Michael Dell could potentially lose control of the company he founded in 1984 and that he and Silver Lake will most likely need to reconsider their original proposal to make it more attractive to Dell shareholders, some of whom have complained that its terms undervalue the PC maker.

Icahn and Blackstone put in their bids on March 22, the last day of the “go-shop” period to solicit competing offers for Dell. The company could potentially announce as soon as Monday whether or not they will be interested in either of the new proposals.

Icahn, who is being advised by investment bank Jefferies Group, offered $15 per share for 58 percent of Dell’s stock. Icahn plans to fund the transaction with his own funds, Dell’s cash and new debt. Blackstone, which is being advised by Morgan Stanley and partnered with Francisco Partners and Insight Venture Partners, is offering to pay more than $14.25 per share for Dell.

Michael Dell and Silver Lake’s offer had been to take Dell private for $13.65 per share, with Silver Lake putting up $1.4 billion. That deal would allow Michael Dell to remain CEO of the company, and he’d also contribute his 16 percent stake in Dell’s equity to the deal along with cash from his investment firm MSD Capital. Their bid has been criticized by Dell shareholders including Southeastern Asset Management and T. Rowe Price for undervaluing the company. Earlier this month, Icahn had also demanded Dell payout $15.7 billion in special dividends, though he is no longer asking for that, according to the Reuters source.

Michael Dell has said that he wants to re-engineer Dell’s strategy so its focus shifts from PCs to tablets, data-center hardware, and software for corporations. The company’s founder returned as CEO in 2007 after a three year break–he had originally resigned that position in 2004.