Dell shareholders are voting today on founder Michael Dell's plan to take the slumping computer maker private in hopes of engineering a turnaround away from Wall Street's glare.
In a sign that the vote could be close, a special committee of the company's board sent a letter to shareholders emphasizing its opposition to a rival plan from activist investor Carl Icahn. Dell Inc. also said Thursday's meeting could be adjourned quickly without a formal vote to give the board more time to round up support for the $24.4 billion buyout offer from Michael Dell and other investors.
The vote was scheduled at a special shareholders meeting at the company's headquarters in Round Rock, Texas.
Supporters believe Dell Inc. stands a better chance of turning around if it can make long-term strategic decisions without worrying about meeting Wall Street's quarter-to-quarter expectations. But some big investors have already signaled opposition to the bid. Icahn believes the offer undervalues the company.
The company's decision to go private is a reflection of the tough times facing the personal computer industry as people delay replacing traditional computers and spend their money instead on the latest smartphones and tablets. PC sales have been falling, and tablets are expected to outsell laptops this year.
Michael Dell, who is Dell's CEO, is hoping to evolve the company into a more diversified seller of technology services, business software and high-end computers - much the way IBM Corp. had successfully transformed itself in the 1990s.
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