The boardroom battle over Dell (DELL) continues after this morning’s shareholder meeting adjourned without a vote on the $24.4 billion buyout offer from founder & CEO Michael Dell.
Activist investor Carl Icahn and Southeastern Asset Management are leading the charge against the Dell proposal with their own bid for the company. Icahn says the offer, which includes a plan to buy back 1.1 billion shares at $14 each, is worth $15.50 to $18 a share.
The delayed vote is seen as setback for Mr. Dell and Silver Lake Management, whose proposal to take the company private was first put forth in early February.
“I think it’s really a story about institutional investors wanting to save face and wanting to sabotage this voting process,” says Lee Munson, chief investment officer at Portfolio LLC. “There’s some politics behind the scenes here.”
Icahn has openly said Mr. Dell’s offer undervalues the company and yesterday made his message loud and clear to the board. Here’s what he told Scott Wapner at CNBC’s Delivering Alpha conference:
“Most of these boards are completely dysfunctional, but I’ve never seen one as bad as this. I really mean it. They actually go around and scare their own shareholders.”
But Munson reminds us that Icahn may not have the best of intentions.
“People forget history, they forget that Carl Icahn used to be a corporate pirate, and now we call them ‘corporate activists,’” he says. “I don’t think he has real intent on this other than to stir up the pot.”
Despite today’s 2% pop in the stock, Munson suggests staying away from this story. Whether Icahn wins the bid and gets a $14 payout for shareholders, or Michael Dell’s $13.65 offer gets accepted, his message is simple: Move on. Go invest in capitalism rather than a “hedge fund titan’s boxing match.”
The Dell shareholder vote is rescheduled for Wednesday, July 24 at 6pm EDT.