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flickr-dell-quest-softwareRemember what Michael Dell said when he was asked back in 1997 — when Steve Jobs returned to Apple — what he’d do if he were Jobs?

“I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”

Time wounds all heels, I guess. Now Dell might just be finding himself in a roughly similar situation, as Dell Computer has fallen on hard times and high-flying financial vulture Carl Icahn has bought up to six percent of the company with a simple goal: cashing out.

According to CNBC, insiders familiar with the deal said that Icahn will oppose Dell’s leveraged buyout of his company and push for a significant one-time dividend to all shareholders.

Dell shares, which have languished in the $8 range for much of the last six months, are up to $14 this year in response to Dell’s buyout offer — which may include participation by Microsoft — and jumped up another two percent today on the news:

Dell's stock market value

Above: Dell’s stock market value

Image Credit: Google Finance

Dell’s largest shareholder, which owns about 8.5 percent of the company, is reportedly against the buyout and may therefore find common cause with Icahn.

The company reported better-than-expected results in the last quarter of 2012, with $14.31 billion in sales, cash flow of $1.4 billion, and earnings of $0.40 per share.

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