Icahn May Move To Replace Yahoo’s Board

    May 15, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn made his intentions known after acquiring some 50 million shares of Yahoo stock: he’s going to wage the proxy fight that Microsoft chose not to conduct.

Steve Ballmer walked away from negotiations with Yahoo after both sides refused to budge enough on a price for the Internet portal. Carl Icahn may be driving the limo that brings Ballmer back to the negotiating table.

Currently it’s the usual “person familiar with the matter” talking about Icahn’s plans, in this case the idea that the investor will nominate 10 directors to Yahoo’s board by the end of the day on May 15th. The Wall Street Journal said he’ll do so with the intention of restarting talks between Yahoo and Microsoft.

No one’s talking about Icahn’s alleged plans yet, as they fall squarely within the rumor phase at this time. The Journal noted Yahoo may be able to convince Icahn to settle for having some of his director nominees gain seats on an expanded board, to give them a voice in Yahoo’s strategic discussions.

Microsoft becomes something of a wildcard if Icahn decides to shake up Yahoo with a proxy fight. Ballmer is under no compulsion to come back to talks with Yahoo, though one must imagine Icahn and similar powerful investors could talk him into it.

Some have suggested Microsoft could take the money it planned to spend on Yahoo and buy up every interesting startup in Silicon Valley. That probably wouldn’t work for a couple of reasons.

First, the venture capitalists backing a lot of these startups would start demanding more money, if Microsoft started a gold rush to acquire compelling little firms. Also, none of those purchases helps Microsoft on the search advertising side like a Yahoo acquisition does, potentially.