Top Outside Shareholder Demands Dell Open Its Books

Dell Computer Corp.
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Dell's largest outside shareholder is demanding the PC maker open its books, signaling that it could become more active in opposing founder Michael Dell's proposal to take the company private.

Southeastern Asset Management, which holds more than 8 percent of Dell shares including options, asked for the records in a regulatory filing Tuesday on behalf of its largest client, Longleaf Partners Fund.

Citing Dell's silence on the deal during a recent earnings call, Southeastern wrote in the letter to Dell included in the filing that "shareholders should be provided with meaningful, straightforward information."

A representative for Dell was not immediately available to comment.

A growing number of Dell investors, including T. Rowe Price Group, are unhappy with Michael Dell and his partners' plan to take the company private for $24 billion.

Those partners include private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners and Microsoft.

Memphis-based Southeastern, run by activist investor Mason Hawkins, has suggested several alternatives that it says would produce a better outcome for public shareholders. Dell could borrow money to make a major share repurchase, or the company could be broken up and the units sold separately, Southeastern has said.

Dell shares closed Monday at $14, nearly 3 percent higher than the $13.65 per share Michael Dell and his partners have offered.