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Business News

Dell founder ups his offer to take over PC maker

Michael Dell bowed to shareholder pressure yesterday in his battle to take the computer maker he founded private, but warned that his raised offer for Dell was the "best and final proposal".

A shareholder meeting in Texas to vote on the previous $13.65-a-share proposal from Mr Dell, who is backed by the private-equity firm Silver Lake, was again postponed at the 11th hour after he upped the offer by 10 cents to $13.75 a share, or $24.6bn (£16bn).

However, he said the new offer was dependent on a change in the voting rules, arguing that those shareholders who failed to vote should not be counted as against the offer. "There is simply no rational basis for shares that are not voted to count as votes against the merger agreement," he said.

Yesterday's shareholder meeting was itself only arranged after a meeting last week was adjourned within minutes as it emerged that Mr Dell's buyout bid had failed to secure enough votes to pass. Shareholders will now get to vote on the new offer on 2 August.

Mr Dell, who started the company from his dorm room in 1984, has been battling for months with the billionaire Carl Icahn and investment company Southeastern Asset Management, who own nearly 13 per cent of Dell.

Southeastern and Mr Icahn, who say Mr Dell's offer under‑ values the company, have tabled their own offer that would see shareholders get $14 a share plus a warrant that can be exchanged for shares at $20 each.

In the run-up to yesterday's meeting, Mr Icahn and Southeastern issued an open letter urging the board committee considering the deal not to push back the meeting again. "It's time to vote. Do not move election day again. This is not a banana republic," they said.