Dell puts off vote on founder’s buyout bid

Dell has delayed a vote on founder Michael Dell’s plan to take the slumping computer maker private in a sign that the board needs more time to rally support.

Dell called a special shareholders meeting to order Thursday, then quickly adjourned without a formal vote of the $24.4 billion buyout offer from Michael Dell and a group led by the investment firm Silver Lake.

The vote was rescheduled for Wednesday at the company’s headquarters in Round Rock, Tex.

The postponement is a significant setback for Michael Dell and the company’s board, which has spent five months trying to persuade shareholders to approve the buyout.

Supporters of the proposal believe Dell stands a better chance of turning around if it can make long-term strategic decisions without worrying about meeting Wall Street’s quarter-to-quarter expectations.

The mounting opposition to the deal is likely to increase the pressure on Michael Dell and Silver Lake to sweeten their offer. Dell’s stock rose nearly 2 percent, to $13.12.

The delay is a vindication for two major Dell shareholders, Carl Icahn and the Southeastern Asset Management fund. They own a combined 13 percent of Dell and have been leading the mutiny against the proposed deal. They have argued the price undervalues Dell’s long-term prospects.

In a statement, Icahn and Southeastern Asset said the delay “reflects the unhappiness of Dell stockholders with the Michael Dell/Silver Lake offer.”

— Associated Press

Regulator looking at effects of fast trading

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is investigating whether high-frequency traders have established controls to ensure their algorithms don’t malfunction and cause broader harm to markets.

FINRA sent letters this week to about 10 trading firms asking nine detailed questions about how they use and deploy algorithms, according to George Smaragdis, a spokesman for the U.S. brokerage industry’s self-regulator. FINRA had expressed concern about how firms supervise trading algorithms after Knight Capital Group bombarded exchanges in August with mistaken orders that cost the company $400 million.

The review is part of an effort to explore technology controls more deeply, according to examination priorities that the Washington-based regulator published in January. FINRA asks firms in the letter to disclose whether they use kill switches to halt individual algorithms and under what conditions they would shut off trading.

“In light of several high-profile algorithmic trading failures that caused significant market disruption in 2012, FINRA continues to be concerned about how firms are supervising the development of algorithms and trading systems,” the regulator said.

— Bloomberg News

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— From news services

Coming Today

l  Earnings: Dole Food, General Electric, Honeywell International, Whirlpool.