All to play for as battle for Dell heading for climax

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THE two sides in the fiercely-contested battle over the future of Dell are preparing for their final showdown on Wednesday, with the outcome far from certain.

The conflict has pitched Michael Dell, founder of the world’s third-largest PC maker, against veteran corporate raider Carl Icahn, who owns 8 per cent of the company’s shares. Dell wants to take the company private with a $24.4 billion (£16bn) buyout, an offer that Icahn has dismissed as too cheap and “an insult” to shareholders.

Both sides are campaigning hard ahead of this week’s vote, which was postponed after a dramatic last-minute adjournment of a special shareholders’ meeting on Thursday.

Despite winning over several large swing voters in the final hours before that meeting, Dell’s offer is still hanging in the balance.

Dell, who is not casting a vote with his 16 per cent stake, needs support from 42 per cent of shareholders to get through his offer valued at $13.65 per share.

Icahn and Southeastern Asset Management, which owns a further 5 per cent of the company’s stock, have proposed an alternative plan that would involve heavy borrowing to pay cash to shareholders while remaining a public company. 
Icahn claims his offer would be worth $15 to $18 per share to investors.

If Dell’s offer is approved, it will be the tech world’s biggest-ever buyout. Failure would almost certainly lead to Dell’s departure from the company, with other board members likely to follow.

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