Another Buyer for Dell?

Michael Dell is approaching the end of a 45-day deadline for the buyout of his troubled namesake computer company, Dell Inc., and it appears that there might be another buyer willing to top his original offer to sell the company. The board of directors had previously agreed to sell the company back to Dell, its founder and CEO, for $24.4 billion.

The company could have another potential suitor: the Blackstone Group, a company specializing in buyouts, could bid higher than the current asking price of $13.65 per share. Dell currently has a market capitalization of $23.35 billion.

If the deal goes through, Michael Dell could end up replaced as CEO by Michael Hurd, former CEO of rival PC maker HP, whom Blackstone has been courting as a potential hire to lead the company.

The belief that another company is planning to swoop in at the last minute and make a higher bid has kept Dell’s share price above $14, though Southeastern Asset Management, a major shareholder, has asserted that the company is worth closer to $24 per share.

Michael Dell’s move to buy out the company he founded in 1984 comes in a period of turbulence for the old PC manufacturers, as consumers increasingly opt for tablets and smartphones instead of traditional desktop and laptop PCs, where Apple clearly dominates with its iPhone and iPad product lines.

If either Dell or another company succeeds, it could mean a Pyrrhic victory for the buyers and shareholders, as they find themselves saddled with increasingly obsolete product lines as Dell’s customer base shifts toward mobile devices.

On the other hand, Dell has moved into the tablet space with the Latitude 10, a Windows 8-based tablet which uses the Intel Atom processor, which is scheduled to arrive in April. Market reception to Windows 8 tablets, especially Microsoft’s Surface line, has been lackluster, with buyers preferring iOS and Android-based tablets using ARM processors over Windows devices.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli