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Dell's High Stakes Billionaire Battle Goes Into Overtime

Updated from 9:37 a.m. ET to include Carl Icahn statement.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Dell's (DELL) fate hangs in the balance as a private equity consortium led by founder Michael S. Dell fights billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn fight for control of the struggling PC manufacturer.

After a near six-month buyout drama, investors will have to wait another week to see if Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners will relent and increase their $13.65 a share takeover offer or if Carl Icahn's competing $14 a share self-tender will gain the support of shareholders.

Dell adjourned an 8 a.m. CT shareholder on the Silver Lake offer at the company's headquarters in Texas until July 24. Given an apparent increase in investor resistance to the $24.4 billion deal takeover, it remains uncertain whether Dell will wind up in the hands of its founder and Silver Lake, or if Carl Icahn will wrest control of the company.

According to unnamed sources, media reports and public statements made by Dell investors, Michael Dell and Silver Lake struggled to build the majority support they needed to win control of Dell, in what would be the biggest private equity buyout since the financial crisis. Had the deal gone to a vote today, it is likely the outcome would have gone in the favor of Carl Icahn.

Surely, Michael Dell and Silver Lake will now need to say whether $13.65 a share is their final offer. An increasing bid to would turn opposing votes to those supporting the takeover could cost the consortium billions of dollars.

The private equity consortium and a special committee urging Dell investors to vote in favor of the deal will now also need to campaign for added votes. According to Sachin Shah, a merger arbitrage strategist at Albert Fried, Dell's takeover may hinge on whether ordinary retail investors can be convinced to vote in favor of a takeover.

Icahn, now Dell's largest independent shareholder, has built a strong base of "no" votes to the $13.65 a share takeover offer, including Southeastern Asset Management, Yacktman Asset Management and Pzena Investments.

Institutional investors such as T. Rowe Price have publicly opposed the Silver Lake deal as it currently stands. While other large institutional investors such State Street were reported to oppose the deal, reports from Reuters indicate BlackRock and Vanguard voted in favor of the buyout.

Dell may need to win the support of about 10% of absentee votes. Votes could change now that the shareholder meeting has been adjourned, or with any updated proposals.

Icahn said Wednesday he did not want to see the shareholder vote delayed and is confident Michael Dell and Silver Lake will not win the day. Dell's special committee, however, continues to characterize Icahn's competing proposal as speculative and his communication to shareholders as "misleading."

He and Southeastern Asset Management said the adjournment was an indication of widespread unhappiness among Dell investors of the buyout. "This is not a time for delay but time to move Dell forward," Icahn and Southeastern said in an e-mailed statement.
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