Billionaire investor Carl Icahn reportedly plans to try overthrowing Yahoo's entire board to clear the way for Microsoft to renew its attempt...
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn reportedly plans to try overthrowing Yahoo’s entire board to clear the way for Microsoft to renew its attempt to buy Yahoo.
Icahn plans to nominate his own slate of directors at Yahoo’s next annual meeting after buying a stake in the Internet company, a person familiar with the plans said.
Icahn has chosen at least 10 possible candidates and may announce them as early as this morning, the person said. Yahoo’s board rejected a $47.5 billion takeover offer from Microsoft this month.
Candidates include Frank Biondi Jr., the former chief executive officer of Viacom, another person with direct knowledge of the matter said.
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A new board may entice Microsoft, the world’s biggest software maker, to revive negotiations, said Jacob Asset Management’s Ryan Jacob, a Yahoo shareholder.
Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Jerry Yang rejected Microsoft’s offer, which amounted to $33 a share, demanding a higher price.
“A significant number of Yahoo shareholders are very disappointed with the management and the board,” said Jacob, whose $60 million Jacob Internet Fund counts Yahoo shares among its top three holdings. “He would have a reasonable chance of success in terms of getting his directors elected.”
Icahn didn’t return messages left with his assistant Susan Gordon. Yahoo spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail.
Some Wall Street analysts expressed doubt Wednesday that Icahn would be successful in putting Yahoo back into merger talks with Microsoft.
George Askew of Stifel Nicolaus said he had doubts that such a campaign would bring Microsoft back to the negotiating table.
Furthermore, a proxy campaign could be messy for Yahoo and the parties that wage it.
“In our view, a successful proxy battle is a bit like a scorched-earth policy,” Stifel said in a research note.
“You may win the battle but what you ultimately win will be so damaged that it wasn’t worth fighting for. We believe this is why Microsoft didn’t pursue a proxy battle, and we don’t think the software giant’s view will change with Carl Icahn doing the dirty work.”
Buying Yahoo would have helped Microsoft compete with Google in Internet searches and online advertising, a market the company expects to almost double to about $80 billion by 2010.
Google handled nearly two-thirds of U.S. search queries in March. That compared with 21.3 percent for Yahoo and less than 10 percent for Microsoft, according to research firm comScore. Google also overtook Yahoo in overall Web visitors last month, comScore said.
Yahoo gained 49 cents to $27.63 in extended trading after closing at $27.14 Wednesday. The shares had declined 5.3 percent since May 2, the day before Microsoft dropped its bid.
Icahn, through friends, approached Microsoft’s board about coming back to the negotiating table, The New York Times said Wednesday, citing people who had spoken to him. He was told that the software maker had “moved on,” the newspaper reported.
Compiled from The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and MarketWatch.