Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is giving up his bitter takeover fight for Dell Inc. a few days before shareholders are scheduled to consider the latest buyout offer from the struggling computer maker’s founder, Michael Dell.
Icahn said Monday in a letter to shareholders that he still thinks Dell’s bid to take his company private undervalues the business and freezes shareholders out of any future gains. But Icahn also said it would be “almost impossible” to defeat that offer in a vote scheduled for Thursday.
Icahn and another major Dell shareholder, Southeastern Asset Management, said they won’t pursue additional efforts to defeat it.
“We therefore congratulate Michael Dell and I intend to call him to wish him good luck (he may need it),” Icahn wrote in the letter.
Dell’s $24.8 billion bid to take his company private includes an offer of $13.75 per share plus a 13-cent dividend. Dell raised that bid last month after previous offers also drew strong criticism from Icahn and other major Dell Inc. investors.
Dell’s shares have plunged by more than 40 percent since Dell returned for a second stint as CEO in 2007, largely because the company has had trouble adapting to a technological shift that has caused PC sales to fall as more people use smartphones and tablets.
The company said last month that its fiscal second-quarter earnings fell 72 percent, in part because of price-cutting aimed at slowing a sales decline.
Dell wants to take his company private and diversify. He foresees the business going through a painful transition that will likely hurt earnings, something that will be easier to endure without Wall Street’s fixation on short-term results.
But Icahn has said the buyout would keep stockholders from sharing gains the company will reap from an eventual turnaround. His announcement Monday comes more than a month after he vowed to keep fighting Dell’s bid and said “the war regarding Dell is far from over.”
Icahn’s decision to end his opposition makes shareholder approval of Dell’s latest offer virtually certain, according to Carr Lanphier, an analyst who follows the company for Morningstar.
If shareholders accept Dell’s bid, the company expects the deal to close later in its third quarter, which ends next month.
Dell shares rose a penny to $13.85 in Monday afternoon trading.