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Word that billionaire investor Carl Icahn was leaning toward launching a proxy fight to unseat at least some of Yahoo Inc.'s ( YHOO) directors could soon prompt Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) to answer a critical question: Has the software giant really "moved on" from its attempt to buy Yahoo?
That question was magnified Tuesday after a source familiar with the situation said the activist investor had acquired some 50 million Yahoo shares and was expected to decide Wednesday whether to launch a proxy contest - even though he didn't have assurances from Microsoft that it would reconsider buying the struggling Internet giant.
This coming Thursday is Yahoo's deadline for board nominations, only two days away.
[edited by: Marcia at 2:55 am (utc) on May 14, 2008]
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is moving ahead with plans to run a dissident board slate at Yahoo Inc in a bid to force the Internet company to sell itself Microsoft Corp, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.
Icahn, who has amassed a large stake in the Internet company over the last week, has lined up at least 12 potential board candidates and could announce the slate as early as Wednesday night, the sources said. The deadline for nominating a dissident slate is Thursday for the July 3 annual meeting.
If names are being named, it looks like it's a go:
Frank Biondi, a veteran media executive and former head of Viacom Inc who has worked with Icahn on activist campaigns at Time Warner Inc and Motorola Inc, has agreed to be a nominee, sources said.
Here's a slideshow with an overview of his background:
Frank Biondi [bgsu.edu]
From CNN Money:
...But Icahn's decision to proceed with a full slate suggests he intends to turn his proxy battle into a full-blown referendum on Microsoft's takeover offer, which the software giant withdrew on May 3 after the two companies failed to agree on price.
"He must feel comfortable that Microsoft has not moved on. He must feel pretty confident that he can get Microsoft back to the table," said Young, whose firm provides influential proxy advice to major institutional shareholders.
Icahn Confident Microsoft Still Wants Yahoo, Say Proxy Advisor [money.cnn.com]
Neither Yahoo or Microsoft had anything to say, according to the article. But thinking about it, who's the more viable alternative for moving Yahoo forward: a software specialist or a media specialist?
[edited by: Marcia at 3:17 am (utc) on May 15, 2008]
But that does not fit with Microsoft's earlier letter to Yahoo.
"This approach would necessarily involve a protracted proxy contest and eventually an exchange offer," Ballmer said. "Our discussions with you have led us to conclude that, in the interim, you would take steps that would make Yahoo undesirable as an acquisition for Microsoft."
What has changed to stop Yahoo taking those same steps?
Icahn "assembled a 10-member dissident board slate for election at Yahoo's annual meeting on July 3.
"Icahn's slate of nominees includes himself, Frank Biondi, a former Viacom Inc (VIAb.N) chief, and Keith Meister, vice chairman of Icahn Enterprises.
"Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks basketball team owner and co-founder of cable network HDNet is also on Icahn's slate. Cuban is also familiar with Yahoo's negotiating style after he sold Broadcast.com to Yahoo in 1999 for about $5 billion.
"Other nominees include Lucian Bebchuk, professor of law, economics and finance at Harvard Law School; John Chapple, president of Hawkeye Investments; and telecoms industry veteran and former chief executive of Nextel Partners; Adam Dell, managing partner of Impact Venture Partners; Edward Meyer, CEO of Ocean Road Advisors and former CEO of advertising firm Grey Global Group; Brian Posner, a former CEO of ClearBridge Advisors LLC; and Robert Shaye, the former co-CEO of Time Warner Inc's (TWX.N) New Line Cinema."
Seem to me pretty smart business people.