Icahn, Dell enter confidentiality pact

The activist investor, who doesn't like Dell's plan to go private, now can review the PC maker's confidential information.

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Carl Icahn's quest for greater influence over PC maker Dell has moved into a new phase.

Icahn Enterprises this morning announced that, as of yesterday, it has entered into a confidentiality agreement with Dell. The only other element in the press release bearing the news was this terse and deadpan sentence: "Icahn Enterprises looks forward to commencing its review of Dell's confidential information."

In recent days, activist investor Icahn has been critical of Dell for its plan to transform itself from a publicly traded company into a privately held one. Under that proposed $24.4 billion transaction, announced in February, company founder and CEO Michael Dell and investment firm Silver Lake Partners are offering $13.65 per share, and Microsoft would participate with a $2 billion loan.

In an SEC filing last month, Dell said its board had "concluded that the proposed all-cash transaction is in the best interests of stockholders."

Icahn sees things differently. He has criticized the proposal as undervaluing the once-high-flying PC maker and has said that rather than private, Dell should issue a special dividend of $9 per share.

The confidentiality agreement that now exists between Icahn Enterprises and Dell means that the activist investor can get a closer look at Dell's financial records and deal directly with the company's board.

In early trading this morning, Dell's shares were up just under 1 percent to about $14.28.