Using his 15.6% stake in Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) as leverage, Michael Dell will reportedly only back a buyout bid from Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX) if the private-equity giant allows him to stay on as CEO.
According to Bloomberg News, Michael Dell has indicated if a superior bid to his Silver Lake Partners go-private offer bars him from future involvement in the company, the CEO and founder would cash in his shares and walk away. Such a move would leave the potential buyer scrambling to secure $4.5 billion in financing.
Michael Dell has told Blackstone executives Chinh Chu and David Johnson that he’d be more likely to support their rival buyout bid if he kept an influential role, Bloomberg reported.
While Michael Dell’s position as the company’s largest shareholder gives him a certain amount of leverage in an LBO, the special committee is legally bound to pick the strongest deal, regardless of the founder’s preference.
“Michael Dell is in no position, legally nor financially, to demand he stay on as CEO,” said Anthony Michael Sabino, a professor at St. John’s University. “It might be his name on the door, but once he sold stock to the public, their rights are paramount. The board knows this, and if they go against that, they will be sued.”
Blackstone had originally expected Michael Dell would not considering jumping to its offer and Silver Lake now believes it’s possible the CEO will drop out of their joint proposal, the wire service reported.
The private-equity firm had reportedly attempted to lure Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) President Mark Hurd away from the tech giant to run Dell.
The report comes as Dell’s special committee continues to evaluate competing bids for control of Dell.
While Silver Lake agreed to bring the struggling PC maker private for $13.65 a share, Blackstone’s bid is valued at more than $14.25 a share and allows some shareholders to keep a stake in the company.
Billionaire Carl Icahn has also offered $15 a share to acquire 58% of Dell, but the activist investor has also signaled a willingness to work with Blackstone on a joint transaction.
According to Bloomberg, private-equity firms KKR (NYSE:KKR) and TPG Capital also previously considered backing a Dell buyout before ultimately deciding not to.
Late last week Dell filed a proxy statement that highlighted the bleak outlook for the PC maker that prompted the go-private efforts.
Michael Dell told the board that embarking on a dramatic transformation of the company before going private would be “poorly received” by investors by weakening earnings and causing “greater volatility” in stock prices, the Securities and Exchange Commission filing said.
The document also revealed that Dell’s board forced Silver Lake to raise its original offer price by 22% from $11.22 at the beginning.
Shares of Round Rock, Texas-based Dell slipped 0.24% to $14.30 Monday morning.