Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Icahn's Open Letter Reveals Microsoft Support for Yahoo! Bid

On Monday Carl Icahn, who we know is not er, happy, about the lack of a deal between Microsoft and Yahoo!, cited discussions with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in an open letter he published. The letter, issued as a press release, said, in part:
Steve made it clear to me that if a new board were elected, he would be interested in discussing a major transaction with Yahoo!, such as either a transaction to purchase the "Search" function with large financial guarantees or, in the alternative, purchasing the whole company.
Icahn also made clear his plans for Jerry Yang, saying that one of the first things a new board would do is: "Move expeditiously to replace Jerry Yang with a new CEO with operating experience."

Ah yes, the soap opera continues. It's obvious that Microsoft has not completely moved on, with stories continuing to circulate, despite none other than Bill Gates saying such a deal is unlikely. However, Icahn is trying to unseat all or part of the Yahoo! board, and that part of the drama still continues.

For its own part, Microsoft issued its own confirming press release (in case you thought Icahn was just blowing smoke):
Despite working since January 31 of this year, as well as in the early part of last year, we have never been able to reach an agreement in a timely way on acceptable terms with the current management and Board of Directors at Yahoo!. We have concluded that we cannot reach an agreement with them. We confirm, however, that after the shareholder election Microsoft would be interested in discussing with a new board a major transaction with Yahoo!, such as either a transaction to purchase the “Search” function with large financial guarantees or, in the alternative, purchasing the whole company.

...

While of course there can be no assurance of a future transaction, we will be prepared to enter into discussions immediately after Yahoo!’s shareholder meeting if a new board is elected.
In mid-morning trading Yahoo! stock was up nearly 9% at $23.26, while Microsoft stock was up very slightly to $26.14.

Yahoo's annual shareholders meeting on August 1, and that's where the proxy fight will really unfold. Fireworks in August rather than July? Looks like.


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