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Dell shareholder: 'Rush' is because Michael D wants to buy

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Dell shareholder Southeastern Asset Management has said that the board's assessment of the buyout deal offered by Michael Dell and Silver Lake is flawed and it's only rushing to sell because Michael Dell wants to buy.

The shareholder published an open letter accusing the board of focusing disproportionately on the computing aspect of Dell's business and "giving little attention" to the Enterprise Storage and Services unit in its analysis of the offer.

"Over the last two years, under a Board authorised program, the Company has repurchased 224,000,000 shares for $3.4 billion at an average price of over $15.25 per share," Southeastern said in the letter.

"The same Board that was confident with Dell buying its shares for $15.25 is now attempting to convince all shareholders that Dell's business is in such dire straits that they should take $13.65 and exit their investments.

"We believe the Board's sudden rush to sell is triggered by one thing: Mr. Dell's desire to buy."

A number of shareholders have argued that the Dell/Silver Lake $24.4bn offer to take the computer firm private undervalues it and have urged other shareholders to turn the deal down. As well as opposition from Southeastern, the PC-maker is facing groups headed up by Icahn Enterprises and Blackstone Group that have thrown counter-bids of $15.65 a share and $14.25 a share respectively into the bidding.

According to sources who whispered to the Wall Street Journal, Blackstone is in talks with several tech companies to join its bid to take over Dell and told them that they would have a role in the company's strategic direction as well as financially if they signed up.

The private equity firm allegedly has the backing of Southeastern Asset Management, which will roll its 8.4 per cent stake into an offer. As well as the $14.25, Blackstone has also said it will allow shareholders to hang on to some of their stock in a piece of Dell that will stay public.

Meanwhile, both Michael Dell and activist investor Carl Icahn, of Icahn Enterprises, may end up hitching their wagons to Blackstone if it comes up with a convincing enough deal to keep them happy. ®

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