Billionaire investor Carl Icahn said he “definitely” has a candidate in mind to be Dell Inc. (DELL:US)’s chief executive officer if he succeeds in his fight for the personal-computer maker.
“You can believe that we’re going to do whatever it takes to get someone,” Icahn said today at the CNBC Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha Conference in New York, citing past successes replacing management at Biogen Idec Inc. and Motorola. Icahn didn’t elaborate on the possible candidate to lead Dell.
Icahn, who holds an 8.7 percent stake (DELL:US) in Dell, has been agitating to force founder Michael Dell and buyout partner Silver Lake Management LLC to sweeten their $13.65-a-share offer to take the computer maker private. His rival offer of $14 would allow Dell shareholders to retain equity in a publicly traded portion of the company, plus a warrant that could be exchanged for additional stock should Dell climb higher than $20.
Dell shareholders are scheduled to vote on the offers tomorrow. While CEO Dell and Silver Lake consider their offer best and final, according to people familiar with the situation, the special committee of Dell’s board hasn’t been formally told as much by the buyers, and believes the group has room to raise the offer, another person said. The committee is contemplating delaying the shareholder vote by about a week to seek a higher bid or more time to win support for the deal, that person said.
“If Dell raises -- my worry is if he does raise, that some of the big institutions might go over to him,” Icahn said. “I’m really happy he didn’t, but we’ll see what happens.”
Dell shares rose 1.1 percent today to $12.88 at the close in New York, giving the Round Rock, Texas-based company a market capitalization of about $22.6 billion.
Icahn and Southeastern Asset Management Inc., which holds a 3.98 percent Dell stake, urged the board not to postpone the vote in an open letter to shareholders today.
Separately, T. Rowe Price Group Inc., which holds 4.1 percent, reiterated its opposition to the Dell-Silver Lake offer earlier this week, saying the buyout doesn’t “reflect the value of Dell.” To succeed, the buyout needs to win approval from a majority of holders excluding Michael Dell, who has about a 16 percent stake.
Investors opposed to the transaction own more than 20 percent of Dell shares, according to a report last week from shareholder adviser Glass Lewis & Co., which is backing Dell’s bid with Silver Lake. Opponents may also include Harris Associates LP, Yacktman Asset Management Co. and Pzena Investment Management Inc., according to the report.
“I believe this will go to a proxy fight, and I think I can win that proxy fight,” Icahn said. “I would like to own the company,” Icahn said. “The most money I’ve ever made is when we control these companies, when we get into them.”
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