Barring anything unexpected, Michael Dell
is almost assured to gain control of the company he founded and take it private following a shareholder vote later this week. Michael had originally proposed a $24.4 billion buyout offer
for the world's third largest PC maker, but things hit a snag
when some began to question Dell's
overall value. Billionaire investor and Dell shareholder Carl Icahn emerged as one of the most outspoken opponents of the deal, threatening legal action and even putting together an alternative package
that would pay shareholders a dividend while keeping the company public.
Michael ultimately responded by sweetening the offer
with an increase in the purchase price from $13.65 per share to $13.75 per share, and also guaranteeing that the third-quarter dividend of $0.08 per share would be paid at or before closing. His final offer worked out to an additional $350 million over his original bid.
With a shareholder vote on the horizon, Icahn is backing down, saying in an open letter to Dell stockholders that "it would be impossible to win the battle." He still believes Michael's offer "greatly undervalues" the company, but has decided he will "not pursue additional efforts to defeat the Michael Dell/Silver Lake proposal, although we still oppose it and will move to seek appraisal rights."
"While we of course are saddened at our losing the battle to control Dell, it certainly makes the loss a lot more tolerable in that as a result of our involvement, Michael Dell/Silver Lake increased what they said was their 'best and final offer'. As a result of this increase all stockholders are to receive many hundreds of millions of dollars more than the board originally accepted," Icahn stated in his letter. "We will never know how much more stockholders might have received if the board had allowed the annual meeting to proceed at the same time as the rescheduled special meeting which we believe would have put pressure on Michael Dell/Silver Lake to increase their bid."
This ends months of public bickering between Michael and Icahn, and also means that by the end of the week, Dell will no longer be a publicly traded company (or at least the wheels will be set in motion toward that end).