Hedge Fund Third Point Says Yahoo! Board Challenge Coming

15 Mar, 2012

Activist hedge fund Third Point said it will launch a campaign in the next seven days to install its own hand-picked directors on Yahoo Inc's board, blasting the Internet company for failing to give the firm a greater say in its operations.

"The board's stonewalling, apparent insouciance and decision not to engage with us in a serious manner, has left us no choice but to directly approach our fellow owners with the shareholder slate," Third Point Founder and Chief Executive Dan Loeb wrote in a letter to Yahoo filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

The letter represents the latest salvo from Third Point, whose 5.8 percent stake in Yahoo ranks it among the company's largest institutional shareholders. It has sharply criticized Yahoo's performance and its strategy.

Third Point said in February it intended to nominate four directors to Yahoo's board, including former NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker and Third Point's Loeb. The deadline for outside shareholders to officially nominate a rival slate of directors to Yahoo's board is March 25.

In an emailed statement, Yahoo said the board's nominating and corporate governance committee is reviewing, "a wide range of highly qualified candidates."

"The committee has included Third Point's candidates in its thorough review process and will make its recommendations to the full board in due course," the statement said.

Yahoo's Sale Plan?

Yahoo, whose revenue slid by more than a fifth last year, brought in former PayPal President Scott Thompson as chief executive in January, five months after Carol Bartz was fired.

Thompson, in his latest efforts to save costs, plans to sell off Yahoo's advertising technology platform, including Right Media, tech blog AllThingsD reported, citing sources close to the situation.

The blog said the possible buyers could be Google Inc, Microsoft Corp or even private equity firm Silver Lake.

Once a Web powerhouse, Yahoo has struggled amid competition from rivals such as Facebook and Google.

On Monday, Yahoo sued Facebook for infringing 10 of its patents relating to online advertising, privacy and social networking technology.

Yahoo said in February that four of its board members, including Chairman Roy Bostock, will not stand for re-election this year and appointed a former IBM executive and a former eBay COO to join the board as independent directors.

Yahoo was not immediately available for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.

The company's shares were up 5 cents at $14.68 in after hours trading on Wednesday. The shares closed at $14.63 on the Nasdaq.