Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Dell’s Board Can’t Decide if Carl Icahn Is Serious

lolcat-waitingThe special committee of Dell’s board of directors appointed to oversee its attempt to go private sent a letter to activist investor Carl Icahn and his partner, Southeastern Management, saying the committee can’t decide if they’re serious about wanting to take over the computing company. The committee can’t engage in serious talks until they hear specifics, the letter said.

Icahn and Southeastern proposed an alternate transaction to Dell’s proposed $24.4 billion go-private transaction with the private equity firm Silver Lake. The board committee responded by saying it wanted more information in order to evaluate. Aside from some chatting to a CNBC anchor about wanting to fire Michael Dell as the company’s CEO, and nominating a slate to replace the company’s current board of directors, the Icahn-Southeastern camp has been quiet.

Icahn and Southeastern proposed their transaction before Dell reported quarterly earnings on May 16. That earnings report showed a 79 percent year-on-year drop in quarterly profits.

The committee last week asked the Icahn camp for details about how it would finance its proposed deal, and for a draft of a definitive agreement. Icahn has in recent weeks disclosed that he owns about 4.5 percent of Dell’s outstanding shares, while Southeastern has long been Dell’s largest outside shareholder, accounting for more than 8 percent.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik