There’s been more developments at Dell this morning, with reports suggesting that private-equity firm Blackstone Group has ended its $25 billion rival takeover bid, bring founder Michael Dell’s dreams of taking his company private a step closer to fruition.
Blackstone launched its bid last month following widespread opposition among Dell shareholders to the founder’s own $24.4 billion buyout offer. However, both the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal are now reporting that this offer has been withdraw. It’s not immediately clear what reasons Blackstone has given for pulling out.
Blackstone’s takeover bid came following last February’s announcement that Michael Dell wanted to take the company private through a $24.4 billion, or $13.65 per share offer, which is to be financed by himself, the private-equity firm Silver Lake, and a $2 billion loan from Microsoft. Following that proposal, Dell then announced a grace period during which it invited rival bids to trump that of the company’s founder. This led to both the bid from Blackstone, and a third offer from activist investor Carl Icahn, whose bid still remains on the table.
According to a special committee of Dell shareholders set up to consider the rival bids, Blackstone’s proposal would have given shareholders a choice of two options – either to take the money and run, or stay in the game. Those who took the cash would have received a higher price of $14.25 per share, while those who stayed for the ride would have been given shares valued higher than $14.25.
Had the offer been accepted, it would have meant that Dell remained a publicly traded company. Blackstone was also rumored to be tapping up former HP CEO Mark Hurd about taking a similar role at Dell if the deal went through, although Hurd himself denied having any interest in Dell.
As for Michael Dell, his reported position was that he would only support Blackstone’s offer is he could retain his role as CEO.
That Blackstone has now pulled out means Michael Dell’s own plans have a much greater prospect of being accepted, yet he still has to deal with the very sticky problem in the form of Carl Icahn, who previously threatened “years and years” of litigation suits if he didn’t get his own way.
Icahn, who owns a 6% stake in Dell, is reported to be strongly opposed to any plans to take Dell private, and has presented a far more complex deal that would see the company receive $2 billion in cash from his company, Icahn Enterprises. However, Dell would also be forced to assume $5.2 billion in new debts, with shareholders being given the option to cash out or remain as part of the company.
From a sentimental viewpoint, Dell as a company almost certainly faces a much brighter future if Michael Dell can somehow satisfy Icahn and regain control. As SiliconANGLE’s founder John Furrier stated last month, Icahn’s history suggests that he’s far more likely to strip the firm of its assets than try to take it forward.
“It will be a shame if Michael Dell loses his company to a bunch of financial engineers that want to squeeze every penny out of the Dell assets. Michael Dell wants to make a turnaround, whereas the new investors want to “gut” the company,” said Furrier at the time.