Now it's official: A billionaire investor and the world's largest private-equity firm each want a piece of the world's third-largest computer maker.
The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE:BX) submitted a bid ahead of a key deadline on Saturday to buy Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL), a new offer that opposes two other ones. Also bidding for the company are on one side billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who already has a minority stake in it, and on the other side a partnership consisting of its founder, chairman and CEO, Michael S. Dell, and the investment firm Silver Lake. The Dell/Silver Lake partnership offer to take the company private valued it at $24.4 billion, while the exact amounts Blackstone and Icahn have in mind are not yet known officially.
Blackstone aims to extend the time for discussions with the Round Rock, Texas-based computer maker. On Feb. 5, Dell announced its board had OK'd the Dell/Silver Lake partnership bid for the company, subject to a number of conditions. It also said the deal provided for an initial so-called go-shop period of 45, which allowed the firm to seek alternative offers during that time.
Blackstone submitted its bid shortly before the go-shop deadline was hit. While the Dell/Silver Lake partnership was offering $13.65 per share, both Icahn and Blackstone may be offering as much as $15 a share, Bloomberg News and Reuters reported of their respective bids.
The original bid was Chairman and CEO Dell's attempt to take back majority control of the company he founded in 1984, with plans to focus on providing products and services to corporations. In recent years, his once-innovative firm has struggled to keep pace with competitors in a changed consumer-products marketplace that now includes smartphones and tablets integrated with personal computers.
The Dell/Silver Lake partnership deal would require the support of the holders of more than one-half of Dell's shares, excluding founder Dell himself, who has a 15.6 percent stake.
Dell's share price closed Friday at $14.14 on the New York Stock Exchange.