New York, Jan. 15: The falling, former poster child of the American technology industry is in the sights of private equity, it emerged last night.
Shares in Dell surged in late trading after reports emerged that it had been approached by buyout companies looking to take over the struggling computer maker.
The stock gained almost 13 per cent, or $1.41, to close at $12.29 after being suspended for a short period when a sudden 10 per cent spike tripped Nasdaq's circuit breaker, which kicks in to prevent potentially damaging short-selling.
Bloomberg reported that the Texan firm, which has a market valuation of $22 billion, had entered talks with at least two private equity firms and that banks had been contacted to discuss financing an offer.
Dell declined to comment on what it called "rumour and speculation".
The company's stock has fallen by a third over the past year. A move to take the business private would require the blessing of Michael Dell, the founder and CEO, who owns 15.7 per cent of the shares.
Dell, 47, took a small company to worldwide prominence. Its low-cost computers proved a huge hit during the tech boom and within 17 years it had grown to become the world's largest PC business in 2001.
However, the company's growth started to slow in 2006 and, like Hewlett-Packard, it has been hit hard by the iPad, which has triggered a steep downturn in the sale of desktop computers.
The latest industry data compiled by the research company Gartner showed that Dell's computer shipments in the fourth quarter of last year fell 21 per cent to 9.2 million ' by far the worst decline among the sector's largest companies. Its market share fell to 10.2 per cent from 12.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2011.