Blackstone Dell offer could kick off bidding war

Michael Bow
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BLACKSTONE, the private equity giant which co-owns the Broadgate Estate, was last night mulling plans to make a bid for PC maker Dell ahead of a deadline this weekend which could scupper founder Michael Dell’s intention to take the company private.

The Dell board has previously approved Michael Dell’s proposals for a $24.4bn (£16.1bn) buyout of the company backed by rival private equity outfit Silver Lake but has set a deadline of Saturday morning to see if a better offer emerges.

Blackstone was last night understood to be reviewing plans to make a last minute expression of interest in the company, which could spark a bidding war for Dell.

The original offer of $13.65 a share made by Silver Lake and Michael Dell would have to be topped by Blackstone for the board to pull back on the original plan.

Shares in Dell fell 19 cents yesterday to close at $14.14.

Blackstone, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, is one of the big beasts of the private equity jungle, but has diversified in recent years to include real estate and debt among its interests.

It is understood former Hewlett Packard chief Mark Hurd has been sounded out by the company to take the reins at Dell, should a bid be made and accepted by the board and shareholders

One of Dell’s major shareholders, fund management outfit Southeastern Asset Management which owns 14 per cent, is currently against Michael Dell’s buyout proposal. It believes the company is worth at least $24 per share.

Any bid made by Blackstone would open the door for Michael Dell and Silver Lake to make a counter bid, but under the terms of the sale this is the only counter bid the party is permitted to make.

Another possible bid for the company could emerge froma activist investor Carl Icahn.

Icahn, who along with Blackstone is understood to have signed a nondisclosure with Dell to access its accounts, could also make an expression of interest before the deadline.