Icahn ends battle for control of Dell; vote due on Thursday

Mon Sep 9, 2013 5:58pm EDT
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By Nicola Leske and Poornima Gupta

(Reuters) - Carl Icahn on Monday ended his months-long effort to block Michael Dell's $25 billion offer to take Dell Inc private, smoothing the way for the largest buyout since the financial crisis.

The activist investor, the company's second-largest shareholder, said he would no longer try to head off the deal, and that a war with the billionaire founder and the company's board "would be almost impossible to win."

His withdrawal significantly improved the odds that the company would finally muster enough votes at a special shareholders' meeting slated for Thursday to clinch the deal. But Icahn, known for aggressive tactics when going after corporations, could not resist a parting shot.

"The Dell board, like so many boards in this country, reminds me of Clark Gable's last words in "Gone with the Wind," they simply 'don't give a damn,'" Icahn wrote in a letter to shareholders on Monday.

Dell declined to comment.

Icahn's move ended a battle that has raged since March, pitting Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners against Icahn and money manager Southeastern Asset Management.

The founder has sought to take the company private to transform it - away from public scrutiny - into a provider of enterprise computing services, from a maker of personal computers. Icahn argued that Michael Dell's offer undervalued the company's shares.

Icahn's capitulation follows a number of setbacks to his opposition campaign.   Continued...

Dell logos are seen at its headquarters in Cyberjaya, outside Kuala Lumpur September 4, 2013. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad