SAN FRANCISCO — Billionaire Carl Icahn will ask a judge to assess the fairness of a proposed $24.4 billion acquisition of struggling computer maker Dell in his latest attempt to wrangle a higher price from buyers that include its chief executive, Michael Dell.
The legal move outlined Wednesday might end up being one of the last gasps in Icahn’s crusade to prove that Michael Dell and other investors led by Silver Lake Partners are trying to snap up the world’s third largest PC maker at a steep discount to its long-term value.
Icahn has backed up his belief by accumulating a nearly 9 percent stake in Dell Inc., hoping he can flush out a deal that would be worth more than the $13.65 per share that Michael Dell and Silver Lake have agreed to pay for a Round Rock, Texas, company that has fallen on hard times as more consumers and companies buy smartphones and tablets instead of laptop and desktop machines.
Michael Dell is betting that he will revive the company that he founded in 1984 by cutting costs, overhauling the sales force, and diversifying into more profitable technology niches, such as business software, data storage, and consulting services. The changes are likely to lower Dell’s earnings, so Michael Dell wants to engineer the turnaround away from Wall Street’s financial pressure.
Dell could be privately held for the first time in 25 years.
Dell’s shareholders will get their chance to accept or rebuff the offer at a July 18 meeting. The bid must be backed by slightly more than 42 percent of Dell’s outstanding stock because Michael Dell’s nearly 16 percent stake in the company is being excluded from the count.
Dell’s stock fell 3 cents to close at $13.33.