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Summary:

Dell’s future remains up in the air, with now not one but three potential deals officially on the table. The board’s special committee deemed both the new Blackstone Group and Carl Icahn bids worthy of consideration.

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photo: Getty Images

Dell’s board acknowledged Monday morning that it received two more buyout bids and vowed to consider them in the best interest of shareholders. As has been reported over the past week or so, The Blackstone Group and Carl Icahn prepped their own bids to counter a $24.4 billion (or $13.65 per share) offer put together by company founder and CEO Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners to take the company private.

money dollar bills benjamin franklin cashIcahn, who owns what is thought to be about 6 percent of Dell shares, is offering up to $15 per share for a $2 billion piece of the company. The Blackstone-led group is offering $14.25 per share. All Things Digital has more here.

Both the Icahn and Blackstone offers are for a controlling stake in the company, not the whole thing. They would leave some shares to trade publicly.

The gist of Dell’s statement linked here is:

“The Special Committee, consisting of four independent and disinterested directors, has determined, after consultation with its independent financial and legal advisors, that both proposals could reasonably be expected to result in superior proposals, as defined under the terms of the existing merger agreement. Therefore, each of the Blackstone and Icahn groups is an “excluded party” and the Special Committee intends to continue negotiations with both.”

Michael Dell founded the company nearly 30 years ago and built it into what was at one point the world’s biggest PC maker and a huge power in servers as well. He stepped down as CEO in 2004 but  re-assumed that role three years later.

Image 1 for post GigaOM interviews Michael Dell( 2008-07-28 11:05:22)

The company’s problem is that like rival Hewlett-Packard, it missed the boat in tablets and smartphones at a time when those devices started to outsell laptop and desktop PCs. Over the past few years, though the company has added a lot of software, storage and cloud computing expertise via acquisitions of companies like Quest Software, Boomi, EqualLogic and Compellent. It also bought more services expertise by acquiring Perot Systems.

Michael Dell himself owns an estimated 16 percent of the company.

The bidding war signals that at least two parties see the Dell offer undervaluing the company. Whether the rival buyers would keep the company intact or sell off the piece parts down the road remains an open question.

The Wall Street Journal blog outlines several scenarios that could play out.

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  1. If this buyout saga goes on for too long it will start to hurt Dell’s customer base. I think it has been shown time and time again that this kind of drama erodes confidence and can be very hard to repair.

    Making it worse for Dell is that if either Blackstone or Icahn wins I doubt many customers will find that comforting. If I were a customer I would be worried about what kind of cost cutting will take place to service all the debt. I would also be very worried about the company being broken up and the pieces sold off.

    I bet Michael Dell is starting to regret his buyout idea. They should have kept Dave Johnson on their team and continued working on their plan of making acquisitions to shift away from PCs. Now Dave Johsnon is at Blackstone and Dell is the one that might be acquired!

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