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Carl Icahn. Photo: Heidi Gutman/CNBC, NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Carl Icahn, the activist investor, disclosed an 8.3% stake in a tracking stock for Dell Technologies' position in VMWare yesterday, and said he will actively oppose Dell's plan to return to the public markets via a $22 billion reverse merger with that tracking stock. Per Icahn's letter:

Why it matters: If this sounds familiar, it's because Icahn tried preventing Dell from going private back in 2013, arguing that Michael Dell and private equity sponsor Silver Lake were undervaluing the company.

  • Icahn eventually relented after getting a small price bump and losing a Delaware legal battle, but seems to believe he has a better chance of prevailing this time because he's acting earlier and has the apparent support of several other large shareholders in the tracking stock.
  • He's not only pledging a "no" vote on the reverse merger, but also floated his own bid for more of the tracking stock at a better price than what Dell is offering. This is a bit reminiscent of the public stub idea he tried out five years ago.

The bottom line: Both sides are likely headed back to a Delaware courtroom.

"I firmly believe Dell and Silver Lake are trying to capture $11 billion of value that rightly belongs to us, the DVMT stockholders. As such, I intend to do everything in my power to STOP this proposed DVMT merger...For the better part of the past year, Dell and Silver Lake worked to destroy the value of the Tracker by (1) raising the possibility of a Dell IPO, (2) floating the idea of a merger with VMware and (3) threatening a forced conversion of the Tracker into Dell common stock, among other tactics. These scare tactics are reminiscent of the tactics Machiavelli advised the Borgia rulers to use centuries ago."
— Quote from Icahn's letter

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”