Breakingviews

Activists crash dealmaker party

March 25, 2014

Shareholder lawsuits, cross-border mergers and defender-in-chief Marty Lipton will play supporting roles at the annual New Orleans M&A confab. Aggressive investors shaking dozy boards are the headliners. Their increasing presence at the gathering reinforces a growing power.

Dell hell concludes, lessons probably unlearned

September 13, 2013

Shareholders have finally approved the $25 bln buyout by founder Michael Dell and Silver Lake. It carried more than its fair share of ridiculousness. Overconfidence and delay got the better of both sides – and speculators succumbed to their overactive imaginations.

Carl Icahn won’t have the last tweet on Dell

September 9, 2013

The billionaire has conceded defeat in his effort to block Michael Dell’s $24 bln buyout of the PC maker. Icahn may still profit, and his broader record is strong. But his Dell logic did not compute. And his recent punt on Apple is a better ad for his self-promoting parting shot.

Plummeting BlackBerry would stain any buyout

August 12, 2013

A clean balance sheet makes the $5.4 bln smartphone seller an enticing takeover candidate. Like Dell, it’s a tech icon in need of a turnaround. BlackBerry’s cash flow is worse, though, meaning leverage would be extra risky. And the Palm precedent should scare corporate buyers.

Flawed Dell compromise saves faces all round

August 2, 2013

Letting the $24 bln buyout fade away would have hurt most shareholders, the board and the founder. But the PC maker’s worsening prospects left little room. A 2 pct hike in the offer price in return for a tweaked voting procedure won’t delight anyone but should seal the deal.

Dell shareholders get time to come to their senses

July 18, 2013

With the vote on a $24 bln buyout too close to call, the PC maker put off the decision for a week. The hope of a sweetened bid from Michael Dell and Carl Icahn’s eleventh-hour lobbying proved too alluring. Sleeping on it a bit more, though, should make Dell’s hard reality clear.

Could Silver Lake quietly be rooting for Icahn?

May 13, 2013

A half-baked leveraged recap plan is the latest salvo from the uppity billionaire in the Dell fight. If the buyout firm backing company founder Michael Dell is spooked by the swoon in PC sales, it can’t easily bail on its $24 bln bid. But Carl Icahn could bail it out instead.

Potemkin Dell fight would have optical merits

March 27, 2013

Even if Blackstone doesn’t buy the PC maker, bidding against Silver Lake at least looks like rivalry in LBO-land, undermining allegations of collusion. Dell’s board also comes off as rejecting the bad J Crew precedent. A phony battle just won’t help shareholders much.

Blackstone, Icahn likely to stub toe on Dell

March 25, 2013

Both are offering more for the computer maker than its eponymous founder. But the new bids rely on existing investors keeping a small public stake. In theory that obviates the need to get Michael Dell’s support. In practice, the downsides of such stub equity make it a long shot.

Heinz deal gives taste of new buyout secret sauce

February 14, 2013

Private equity firm 3G is swallowing the ketchup maker for $28 bln with Warren Buffett’s help. In the past, such mega-buyouts required multiple LBO firms to work. With club deals all but dead, the Heinz takeover, like Dell’s, shows the new way forward.