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Dell: Don't put the blame on CEO for woes

PC firm's founder says Rollins not solely responsible

DALLAS -- Dell Inc. chairman and founder Michael Dell defended his hand-picked successor's work at the world's largest PC maker yesterday, saying Kevin Rollins isn't solely to blame for the company's recent missteps.

The company has been battered in the last month by a recall of 4.1 million potentially flammable notebook batteries made by Sony Corp. and by disappointing earnings.

On Monday, Dell delayed filing its fiscal second-quarter financial report and suspended its share-repurchase program because of an ongoing federal accounting probe.

``Characterizations of the company's challenges as being only Kevin's are inaccurate," Michael Dell, standing next to Rollins, told investors meeting in New York yesterday. ``We believe we have a very strong team at our company. I think any press speculation on that is completely useless, but feel free to speculate because everyone else does. It's not going to happen."

The comments were made following a presentation by Rollins in which he outlined a series of initiatives to bolster the Round Rock, Texas, company's business called ``Dell 2.0."

Though lacking many specifics, the plan would shift the company's focus away from inexpensive products to put more emphasis on services, customer satisfaction, and product design.

Historically, Dell has gained market share by selling inexpensive computer systems directly to consumers and businesses. And though Dell still leads in PC market share, over time the direct-sales model price advantage has foundered amid competition from Hewlett-Packard Co., Lenovo Group and others.

Also, Rollins said the company had extended a partnership with EMC Corp. to sell customized networked storage devices through 2011. The deal with the Hopkinton, Mass. firm was described as a multibillion dollar alliance.

Michael Dell, meanwhile, said the company was fully cooperating with the Nasdaq Stock Market and the Securities and Exchange Commission over the accounting probe that forced Dell to postpone the filing of its earnings.

Dell shares rose 68 cents to $21.87 on the Nasdaq.

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