The Battle For Dell Will Drag On A Little Longer

Dell said it would delay a vote that would allow founder Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners to take the company private. The new vote is scheduled for next week.

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

It will be a little longer before the insanity around Dell finally comes to a close.

Dell today said it would postpone a vote that would allow co-founder Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners to purchase the company and take it private for $13.65 per share, delaying a contentious shareholder vote that has been up in the air since billionaire investor Carl Icahn also made his own offer.

The new vote will happen next week on July 24. Dell gave no further details about why the vote was delayed other than to “provide additional time to solicit proxies from Dell stockholders.”

And it’s likely that the fight is far from over, with Icahn saying yesterday that he was ready for a proxy fight if necessary. Icahn and Southeastern Asset Management are pushing to replace Dell’s board, borrow money, and give stockholders an option of selling some shares back to the company.

“I want to own this company. I’d be thrilled to own this company… I believe this will go to a proxy fight, and I will go to that proxy fight,” Icahn said at the CNBC Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha conference in New York yesterday. “We have some insights and we’re feeling pretty good… I think I’ll have them by the time we have the annual meeting. We definitely have a CEO candidate in mind. You’re looking at history.”

The deal was likely delayed because Dell and Silver Lake Partners could not secure enough guaranteed votes to ensure that the proposal would go through, as several large investors and big names have come out against Dell’s proposal since Icahn countered the offer with his own. Delaying the vote gives Dell and Silver Lake Partners more time to woo shareholders and, if it comes to it, come up with a better offer than the $13.65 offer on the table. Or, Dell and Silver Lake Partners could abandon the deal altogether.

Dell and Silver Lake Partners have argued that taking the company private would allow the company to complete a difficult transition without the scrutiny that comes with being a public company with a stock price, which could harm the company’s ability to hold onto employees and key customers. Icahn has said that, even at $13.65, the deal undervalues Dell as compared to the stock performance of other companies like HP.

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