Dell founder in control as CEO is ousted

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The Independent Online

Michael Dell, who began assembling computers on his college dorm floor 23 years ago, has seized back day-to-day control of the troubled company which bears his name.

Dell yesterday issued its fourth profit warning in a year and ousted its chief executive, Kevin Rollins. Mr Dell will take on Mr Rollins' duties in addition to his existing role of chairman.

An after-hours statement from the company revealed that it had suffered disappointing Christmas and New Year sales - more evidence, analysts said, that its old rivals Hewlett-Packard and Apple have been winning market share.

Dell ceded its position as the world's No 1 computer manufacturer to HP last year. The "direct model" championed by Mr Dell - which sells computers direct to consumers over the phone and the internet, rather than via retailers - has proved less effective as HP cut costs to compete more effectively, and as Dell's customer service was heavily criticised.

The company is also under investigation by federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission over its accounting practices, which have forced it to delay its results. It gave no details yesterday of the scale of the Christmas profit shortfall, or of the specific reasons for ousting Mr Rollins.

Samuel Nunn, the Dell director who chaired the meeting that decided Mr Rollins' fate, said: "There is no better person in the world to run Dell at this time than the man who created the direct model and who has built this company over the last 23 years."

Investors brushed off the profit warning and sent Dell shares higher after hours.

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