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Tech firms and their founders: Monarchs versus managers

July 27, 2013 at 5:32 am | News Desk

THE epic struggle between two billionaires over the future of Dell has gone to another round. Michael Dell, the ailing computer-maker’s founder and biggest shareholder, has now been forced twice to postpone a vote on his proposal to buy out the firm and take it off the stockmarket, for fear that the deal’s critics, led by Carl Icahn, a veteran shareholder activist, may have enough support to scupper the plan.On July 24th, having stopped the ballot as it was about to take place, Mr Dell and Silver Lake, a private-equity firm that is backing him, said they would add $150m to their offer of $24.4 billion. But in return they want a special committee of Dell’s independent directors to change the rules of the vote, now scheduled for August 2nd, so that any abstentions would be ignored rather than counted as votes against the buy-out. (Mr Dell cannot vote his own 15.6% stake.) As we went to press the committee was considering the request. It is unclear if the extra cash will pull enough doubters away from the Icahn camp.All’s swell that ends Dell?If the buy-out eventually fails, a war for control of Dell’s boardroom is likely to ensue. Although much of the squabbling is…
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