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Icahn, Blackstone preparing bids to buy Dell

| Saturday, March 23, 2013, 7:12 p.m.

Michael Dell may face some competition in his effort to take over the computer maker he founded.

The Wall Street Journal reported on its web site Saturday that buyout specialist Blackstone Group and activist investor Carl Icahn have both notified a special committee of Dell Inc.'s board that they are working on bids for the company.

Michael Dell and a group of investors announced their bid, valued at $24.4 billion, in early February. The Round Rock, Texas, company's board set a 45-day period for offers that might top that bid. That period expired Friday.

The Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that the notification will allow Blackstone and Icahn four more days to develop their offers.

A Dell representative declined comment on the report. Blackstone and Icahn representatives did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Icahn and other investors have criticized the $13.65 a share offer from the Michael Dell group as being too low. Several buyout scenarios tying Blackstone to Dell were leaked to the media last week. Dell shares closed Friday at $14.14, an indication that investors expected to see a higher bid. Some analysts have predicted Dell ultimately will be sold for $15 to $16 per share.

Southeastern Asset Management, Dell's second largest shareholder after Michael Dell, has asserted the company is worth closer to $24 per share.

For its part, the four-member board committee maintains it's selling Dell at a fair price, one that reflects the dimming prospects for the PC industry as more technology spending shifts to smartphones and tablet computers.

Dell, the world's third-largest PC maker, has said Friday's deadline for competing offers could be extended if its board believes other suitors would benefit from more time to examine Dell's books and hash out other details.

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