Arik Hesseldahl

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Dell’s Special Committee Asks Carl Icahn to Get Specific on Buyout Plans

lolcats_tell_me_moreThe board committee running Dell’s attempt to go private has asked the activist investor Carl Icahn to get specific about his plans to buy out the company.

Icahn on Friday unveiled a joint proposal with Southeastern Management, Dell’s largest outside shareholder, that would give Dell shareholders the option to continue holding shares in the company, and take an additional $12 a share in cash or stock. The offer came as an alternative to a $24.4 billion leveraged buyout proposed by Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell and the private equity fund Silver Lake Partners.

The board’s special committee asked Icahn and Southeastern to spell out specifics of its plans for Dell, and questioned whether or not the proposal was a serious one.

“It is not clear to us whether you intend to formulate your transaction as an actual acquisition proposal that the Board could evaluate and potentially endorse or accept or rather to propose it as an alternative that the Board could consider in the event the pending sale to Silver Lake and Michael Dell is not approved,” the committee said in its letter, which you can read in full below.

In the letter, Dell’s committee also asked Icahn and Southeastern to spell out financing terms — the plan calls for taking on a lot of debt — and how it would provide cash to keep the company running after using up much of Dell’s pile of cash to pay shareholders.

Icahn owns a stake in Dell that amounts to about 4.5 percent of shares outstanding, and Southeastern owns about 8 percent. They’ve both been pretty critical of the Dell-Silver Lake proposal. In televised comments on CNBC Friday, Icahn said that Dell’s existing shareholders will “literally get screwed” by the deal, which values Dell at $13.65 a share. Southeastern has previously described the Dell-Silver Lake buyout plan as “inadequate.”

The other shoe expected to drop today on the Dell front will also come from the Icahn camp. Icahn said he plans to nominate a new slate of Dell directors, and that the list would be made public today. It will be interesting to see whose names are on it.

Dell shares were indicating they would open lower this morning in premarket trading. As of 8:23 am ET, Dell was trading down four cents from Friday’s close, to $13.41.

Anyway, here’s the latest letter:

May 13, 2013
Mr. Carl C. Icahn
Icahn Enterprises L.P.
767 Fifth Avenue, 47th Floor
New York, NY 10153

Mr. G. Staley Cates
Southeastern Asset Management Inc.
6410 Poplar Avenue, Suite 900
Memphis, TN 38119
Icahn/Southeastern Proposal

Dear Mr. Icahn and Mr. Cates:

We have received your letter dated May 9, 2013, addressed to the Board of Directors of Dell Inc. (“Dell” or the “Company”), in which you outline a potential transaction in which the Company’s stockholders would be entitled to elect to receive either $12.00 per share in cash or $12.00 in additional shares (based on a value your letter assumes to be $1.65 per share) for each share currently held, in addition to retaining their current shares.

It is not clear to us whether you intend to formulate your transaction as an actual acquisition proposal that the Board could evaluate and potentially endorse or accept or rather to propose it as an alternative that the Board could consider in the event the pending sale to Silver Lake and Michael Dell is not approved. In order for the Special Committee of the Board of Directors of Dell to evaluate the transaction you have proposed and potentially negotiate terms which could cause it to constitute a Superior Proposal within the meaning of the pending Merger Agreement, we would need certain clarifications and additional materials, as set forth below.

Please provide a draft of the definitive agreement pursuant to which the transaction would be effected. The Special Committee needs to understand the full terms and structure of the transaction, the extent to which it would be conditioned upon future events and actions, and the remedies that would be available to the Company and its stockholders if the transaction is not consummated.

Please provide comprehensive information regarding the proposed financing for the transaction. We need to understand the terms of the debt financing, and contingencies available if cash on hand or stockholder rollovers are less than anticipated. We would also need to see drafts of forms of commitment papers (and any proposed bridge facility) so that we can assess the certainty of closing.

Please indicate the counterparty and terms of the proposed receivables sale or financing and provide a draft of form of commitment letter or purchase agreement applicable to this proposed sale or financing.

Please describe any contemplated arrangements to provide working capital or other liquidity following the closing. Your proposal does not appear to take into account the additional borrowings that would seem to be required to address the liquidity needs that would result from the extent to which you would use the Company’s cash in the transaction and the fact that you would sell accounts receivable, which would have the effect of reducing future cash flows. In addition to working capital, the Company is likely to have other significant cash needs, such as approximately $1.7 billion of debt maturities within approximately 12 months after closing.

Your proposal assumes that holders of at least 20 percent of Dell’s shares will elect to receive distributions in the form of additional Dell shares. Please provide the forms of commitment letters pursuant to which your affiliated entities would commit to elect to receive additional shares. In addition, please indicate whether you would obtain similar commitments from holders representing an additional 8 percent of Dell’s shares (we note, based on your Schedule 13D filings, that your affiliated entities have investment discretion over approximately 12 percent of Dell’s outstanding shares). If you would not obtain such commitments, please indicate as noted above, the source of the additional cash needed to fund cash distributions in respect of these shares.

Please provide your analysis as to whether the receipt of additional shares by stockholders electing to receive share distributions will be taxable to those stockholders.

Please identify the persons you would expect to form the senior management team of Dell following the transaction, and what role these persons would play in arranging the financing for the proposed transaction. Also, please provide us with a description of the strategy and operating plan you would expect this management team to implement. This information is important both to our assessment of the value of the proposed equity stub and to an evaluation of the financing and completion risk for a highly leveraged transaction of the kind you propose.

Please provide the form of any shareholder agreement, or any pertinent term sheet, governing the relationship between the Icahn and Southeastern affiliated entities so the Special Committee can better understand how decisions relating to the transaction and the Company would be made following the signing of a definitive agreement and following closing of the transaction.

If you have questions about the requested information, please contact Roger Altman, Will Hiltz or Naveen Nataraj at Evercore Partners.

Very truly yours,

The Special Committee
of the Board of Directors
of Dell Inc.

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