Dell Inc., the personal computer maker facing mounting shareholder resistance to a proposed $24.4 billion leveraged buyout, will allow billionaire Carl Icahn review its books as he pushes alternatives to the deal.
Icahn, who has amassed a stake in Dell and is urging the company to pay a special dividend of $9 a share, said in a statement today that he signed a confidentiality agreement with Dell to examine information, without providing additional detail. Representatives for Icahn and Round Rock, Texas-based Dell couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Dell’s board is seeking bids higher than the $13.65 a share offer by chief executive officer Michael Dell and Silver Lake Management LLC to take the company private. The deal — which requires approval from a majority of shareholders excluding CEO Dell — has been opposed by shareholders including Southeastern Asset Management Inc. and T. Rowe Price Group Inc., who have said the price undervalues the company.
Icahn said last week that he asked Dell’s board to pledge that it will implement his dividend proposal if shareholders reject the Michael Dell-led offer. Otherwise, Icahn said he will start a proxy fight and seek to replace board members with his own candidates.
The so-called go-shop period for the company to seek higher bids runs through March 22, and Dell said last week that it welcomes Icahn and other parties to participate in that process.
Dell rose less than 1 percent to $14.26 at 9:30 a.m. in New York, signaling that investors anticipate a higher buyout offer. The stock had advanced 40 percent this year through March 8, compared with an 8.8 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.