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Like Apple and Jobs, Why Dell Really Needs its Founder

Monday, 25 Mar 2013 | 9:48 AM ET
Here's What CEOs Really Think of Their Boards
Monday, 25 Mar 2013 | 6:41 AM ET
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Yale School of Management, discusses the latest results of a study about the relationship between business leaders and their corporate boards.

Shareholders of Dell would "lose badly" if the three-way takeover battle for the struggling personal computer maker results in Michael Dell losing control of the company he started out of his college dorm room nearly three decades ago, management expert Jeffrey Sonnenfeld told CNBC on Monday.

"These creative geniuses make a difference," Yale's Sonnenfeld said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "This guy has to be part of the equation if the shareholders and customers are going to come out on top."

On Monday, a special committee of the Dell board confirmed that it's evaluating separate takeover proposals from Blackstone Group and billionaire investor Carl Icahn to decide whether either or both are likely to trump an existing $24.4 billion take-private deal led by Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake. (Read More: Dell Confirms Offers From Blackstone, Icahn)

Icahn has offered $15 per share for 58 percent of Dell, while Blackstone has proposed paying more than $14.25 per share. Both the Blackstone and Icahn proposals envision that a portion of Dell's stock will remain publicly traded. The take-private offer from Silver Lake has agreed to buy all of Dell for $13.65 per share.


Michael Dell
Getty Images
Michael Dell

Sonnenfeld said he would bet on Michael Dell because he's already reinvented the company "five, six times."

"Nobody could be better battle-tested. The brilliant Steve Jobs only did it once [at Apple]."

As part of this process, Dell has agreed to vote his stake in the company in proportion with how other stockholders vote—basically preventing him from being the deciding ballot.

"I think he's trying to make a statement that he's not out there with some vanity or greedy play," Sonnenfeld said. "He's trying to take this business into a new era."

He said he'd bet on Michael Dell's ability to re-build if he got a chance to "get past the speculators."

As examples, he continued, "J.Crew did this beautifully. You look at Mickey Drexler, how he had to re-position J.Crew." He also pointed to what Howard Schultz has done at Starbucks.

(Read More: J. Crew & the Man Who Dressed America)

By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere; Follow him on Twitter @Matt_SquawkCNBC

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