Friday, February 8, 2013

Southeastern Asset Takes Its Dell Investment Seriously

Southeastern Asset Management, which is the largest outside shareholder of Dell, has written a letter to Dell's Board of Directors opposing the proposed transaction to take the company private.  Unlike some other professional shareholder activists, SAM isn't proposing any self-serving transformation of the company or cosmetic sale of some business.

Instead their letter makes simple, but astute arguments, using some of the company's own statements, to show that the proposed buyout price is larceny in broad daylight.

If Dell's board hasn't thrown in the towel figuring everything is a go, they should wake up and do their job, as the letter asks them to do.

I've read shareholder letters and commentaries from SAM for decades.  As far as their own mutual fund shareholders go, they treat them well by providing a consistent investment process, with moderate expenses, and diligent oversight of the portfolios. Best of all, the fund management "eat their own cooking."  That is, they all have significant portions of their wealth tied up in their own funds.  So, when they call Dell on the carpet for management ennui in not wanting to deal with their public shareholders any more, it is exemplary shareholder activism.

Hopefully, other long-term shareholders will wake up from their slumber and take an hard look at this transaction.

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