Dell founder backs chief executive Rollins

Michael Dell, chairman and founder of the world’s largest personal computer maker, on Tuesday said he shared the blame for stumbles that have battered Dell’s reputation this year.

Mr Dell said he continued to support Kevin Rollins, who took over from him as chief executive two years ago, in spite of the company’s falling share price which has wiped billions from his personal fortune.

At a technology conference in New York, Mr Dell bristled in response to comments that some had called for Mr Rollins to step aside. “Kevin and I run this business together,” he said. “If you want to blame someone, you can blame me too.”

His comments came a day after Dell cancelled a meeting with Wall Street analysts who have been clamouring for more details about what it is doing to combat falling margins and slowing sales growth.

On Monday, Dell’s shares fell further after it announced it would delay filing its quarterly 10-Q report with US regulators because of an ongoing probe into the company’s accounts.

Dell said federal prosecutors had joined the Securities and Exchange Commission in an investigation of financial statements from 2002 to the present.

Dell’s accounting woes are the latest in a series of problems that have provoked a crisis of confidence in the company.

Mr Rollins said on Tuesday that Dell was working to “revitalise every aspect of its business” as it attempted to adjust to falling margins, increased competition and a shift in growth away from its core US and European markets towards emerging markets in Asia.

He said Dell would continue to focus on improving customer service to boost sales after a series of missed targets this year.

Cindy Shaw, a computer industry analyst, said Mr Dell’s patience may not last forever. “The value of his Dell stake has been reduced by about $5bn over little more than a year,” she said.

Shares of Dell, which has grown from $2.5bn in revenues when Mr Rollins joined the company 13 years ago to more than $56bn in revenues today, have fallen more than 60 per cent in the past 18 months. They had risen 0.68 per cent to $21.87 by the close of trade on Tuesday.

Mr Dell, the company’s biggest shareholder, said on Tuesday that it was up to him and the other directors to decide on who could best manage the company.

“Kevin Rollins is an outstanding executive. I think characterisations of the company’s challenges being only of Kevin’s doing are inaccurate,” he said.

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