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Battle for Dell intensifies as rival bidders emerge

25 Mar 2013
Dell World 2012 logo

The fight for control of Dell has taken a new twist, with two bidders emerging ready to top founder Michael Dell's offer to take the struggling hardware maker private.

According to Reuters, Dell has confirmed that it received separate offers from Blackstone, the world's largest private equity firm and corporate raider Carl Icahn, both promising to trump Michael Dell's $24bn offer.

Dell said, “both proposals could reasonably expected to result in superior proposals,” according to Reuters.

Dell spokesman David Frink told V3 that any offers would be dealt with by its special committee, insisting that it would not let those discussions interfere with its day-to-day operations.

"As the Board's Special Committee continues to oversee its process, we remain focused on our customers and on providing innovative products and solutions to help them succeed and better compete in the marketplace," he said.

The original deadline for rival bids was to have been this Friday, although as Dell's special committee have ruled the Blackstone's and Icahn's offers are sufficiently credible, the bidders could be given more time to nail down the details.

Company founder Dell had announced his intention to take the firm private, having received financial backing from equity firm Silver Lake and software titan Microsoft.

Dell's $24bn was intended to give the firm time away from Wall Street's harsh spotlight, helping it transition from its traditional PC and server business to becoming an end-to-end enterprise technology vendor, encompassing software and services.

Nonetheless, Dell's offer failed to impress a number of large investors, with both T Rowe Price and Southeastern Asset management saying the offer price was too low.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, Dell agreed to let Icahn have a closer look at its books.

Dell has consistently traded above the $13.65 offer made by Michael Dell and Silver Lake, suggesting that market watchers believe its likely that they can get a higher offer.

Should Dell and Silver Lake be unable or unwilling to get in to a bidding war, there's a chance that Michael Dell could lose control of the firm that bears his name.

According to some reports, Oracle president and former HP chief executive Mark Hurd has been aggressively courted as a potential replacement by one group of rival bidders.

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