THE FATE OF TIN BOX MAKER Dell hangs in the balance, as two bidders have surfaced ready to outbid founder Michael Dell's deal to take the hardware vendor private.
According to Reuters, Dell has confirmed that it received separate offers from Blackstone, the world's largest private equity firm, and corporate raider Carl Icahn, both offering to trump Michael Dell's $24.4bn offer.
Dell said, "Both proposals could reasonably be expected to result in superior proposals".
Dell spokesman David Frink said that any offers will be dealt with by its board, insisting that it will not let those discussions interfere with its day-to-day operations.
"As the Board's Special Committee continues to oversee its process, we remain focused on our customers and on providing innovative products and solutions to help them succeed and better compete in the marketplace," he said.
The original deadline for rival bids was to have been this past Friday, although as Dell's special committee has ruled that Blackstone's and Icahn's offers are sufficiently credible, the bidders could be given more time to nail down the details.
Company founder Michael Dell had announced his intention to take the firm private, having received financial backing from equity firm Silver Lake Partners and software house Microsoft.
Dell's $24.4bn deal was intended to give the firm time away from Wall Street's harsh spotlight, helping it transition from its traditional PC and server business to become an end-to-end enterprise technology vendor, encompassing software and services.
Nonetheless, Dell's offer failed to impress a number of large investors, with both T Rowe Price and Southeastern Asset management having said the offer price was too low.
Earlier this month, Dell agreed to let Icahn have a closer look at its books.
Dell has consistently traded above the $13.65 offer made by Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners, suggesting that market watchers believe it's likely that they can get a higher offer.
Should Dell and Silver Lake Partners be unable or unwilling to get into a bidding war, there's a chance that Michael Dell could lose control of the firm that bears his name.
According to some reports, Oracle president and former HP chief executive Mark Hurd has been aggressively courted as a potential replacement by one group of rival bidders. µ