Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is reportedly loading up on Yahoo's stock for a possible attempt to shove aside the Internet icon's board...
SAN FRANCISCO — Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is reportedly loading up on Yahoo’s stock for a possible attempt to shove aside the Internet icon’s board and bring disillusioned suitor Microsoft back to the bargaining table.
As he mulls whether to lead a rebellion, Icahn has accumulated about 50 million Yahoo shares, a stake of roughly 3.6 percent in the Sunnyvale, Calif., company, both CNBC and The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. Both media outlets cited unnamed people familiar with the matter.
Icahn hadn’t returned messages seeking comment as of late Tuesday. He faces a Thursday deadline to submit an alternate slate of directors to oppose Yahoo’s board at the July 3 annual meeting.
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Yahoo representatives declined to comment about a possible showdown.
Confronting Yahoo’s board would fit Icahn’s modus operandi. The New York financier has a history of accumulating stakes in companies that have let down their shareholders with poor performances or questionable strategies.
The list of troubled companies that Icahn has recently pressured into shake-ups includes Blockbuster, Motorola and Mylan Laboratories.
He also pushed software maker BEA Systems into agreeing to an $8.5 billion sale to its rival Oracle this year after Oracle dropped a bid of $6.7 billion.
The hope of a renewed bid has helped cushion the blow to Yahoo’s stock price since Microsoft walked away from the negotiations.
Driven by the news of Icahn’s interest in the company, Yahoo shares surged $1.30, or 5.2 percent, to finish Tuesday at $26.56.
Yahoo’s board is on the hot seat for rejecting Microsoft’s initial bid of $44.6 billion, or $31 a share, and for taking measures that finally drove away the software maker.
Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer orally offered to raise the bid to $47.5 billion, or $33 a share. He withdrew the bid May 3 after Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang, acting on behalf of the board, held out for $37 a share — a price Yahoo’s stock hasn’t reached in more than two years.
Yang believes Yahoo will be worth more than $50 billion if the company can attain its goal of accelerating its net revenue growth by at least 25 percent in 2009 and 2010.
But analysts are skeptical about Yahoo’s ability to hit those targets, particularly with the economy weakening. And many shareholders prefer the certainty of Microsoft’s offer.
It’s unclear whether the prospect of a shake-up of Yahoo’s board would be enough to revive Microsoft’s interest. At one point, Ballmer threatened an attempt to oust the board if directors didn’t accept Microsoft’s offer. But he backed off after concluding the battle would diminish Yahoo’s value.
A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment Tuesday.