Exclusive: Dell shareholder Southeastern unhappy with buyout

Fri Feb 8, 2013 7:50am EST
 
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By Nadia Damouni, Aaron Pressman and Greg Roumeliotis

(Reuters) - Dell Inc's largest independent shareholder, Southeastern Asset Management Inc, has told the computer maker that a $24.4 billion buyout bid undervalues it, adding to a chorus of investor dissatisfaction with the landmark deal to take it private, two sources close to the situation said.

Southeastern has privately told the company that it is "disturbed" by a $13.65 per share offer for the third-largest PC maker by a consortium led by founder and CEO Michael Dell, and instead believes Dell is worth $20 per share, the sources said on Thursday.

The Memphis, Tennessee-based fund, which owns a 7.5 percent stake in Dell, did not return calls seeking comment.

Southeastern has not commented publicly since the deal was announced on Tuesday, but Chief Executive Mason Hawkins said in a September 30 filing that the fund believed the company's shares were worth in the "low 20s" even if Dell's personal computing business was valued at nothing.

A representative for the buyout consortium, which also includes private equity firm Silver Lake Partners and Microsoft Corp, declined to comment. Dell was not available for comment.

The sources said the buyout consortium has no plans to raise its current bid. The buyers are counting on the shareholders eventually realizing that no better options exist for Dell than their current offer, they said.

Southeastern's reservations could create new uncertainty about the deal. Over the past few days, some other Dell shareholders have indicated they will vote against the deal.

Further complicating the largest leveraged buyout since the financial crisis is the influx into Dell shares in recent weeks by event-driven funds and risk arbitrage investors. Such investors now own roughly 20 percent of company, according to investor estimates, and could bet on a higher offer.   Continued...

 
A man wipes the logo of the Dell IT firm at the CeBIT exhibition centre in Hannover February 28, 2010. REUTERS/Thomas Peter