Dell wins shareholder support for $25bn buyout

Victory of founder ends jousting over future of computer maker

Michael Dell, who founded the company as a college student in 1984, proposed taking it private to stem years of ebbing sales and profit as consumers shun PCs in favour of smartphones and tablets. He plans to boost investments in mobile devices and data-centre machines. Photograph: Getty Images

Michael Dell, who founded the company as a college student in 1984, proposed taking it private to stem years of ebbing sales and profit as consumers shun PCs in favour of smartphones and tablets. He plans to boost investments in mobile devices and data-centre machines. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Dell chief executive Michael Dell won shareholder approval yesterday for a planned $24.9 billion buyout, capping a seven-month standoff with investors and gaining free rein to attempt a turnaround of the struggling personal-computer maker outside the public glare.

The founder’s victory, announced during a meeting yesterday at Dell‘s headquarters in Round Rock, Texas, ends the jousting between the buyout group and investors led by billionaire Carl Icahn and Southeastern Asset Management.

Disagreements over price pushed the deal to the brink of defeat and resulted in two price increases since the proposal was announced in February.

The takeover of the third largest PC maker is the biggest leveraged buyout since Blackstone took Hilton Worldwide private in 2007.

Mr Dell, who founded the company as a college student in 1984, proposed taking it private to stem years of ebbing sales and profit as consumers shun PCs in favour of smartphones and tablets. He plans to boost investments in mobile devices and data-centre machines without the need to satisfy profit-hungry public investors.

To prevail, the buyout by Dell and partner Silver Lake Management needed a majority of the voted shares to favour the transaction, excluding Mr Dell’s stake of 15 per cent.

The deal won key endorsements in August from Institutional Shareholder Services and two other influential proxy advisory firms. It also had the backing of a special committee of Dell’s board that evaluated potential transactions on the company’s behalf.

Mr Dell and Silver Lake sweetened their bid in August to $13.88 a share, including dividend payouts, from their offer of $13.65. In return they secured a concession from the special committee on new voting terms that would not count abstentions as “no” votes.

The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the third-quarter of Dell’s 2014 fiscal year. – (Bloomberg )