Monday, July 23, 2007

ISS' Governance Weekly: Jackson Launches Campaign for Change at Motorola

From ISS' Governance Weekly:

Eric Jackson, the shareholder activist whose Web-based dissident campaign resulted in significant withhold votes against Yahoo! directors, is now targeting the board at mobile-telephone maker Motorola.

Jackson introduced his “Plan B” for governance at Motorola via his weblog, Breakout Performance, on July 9. The plan includes removing Chairman and CEO Ed Zander, just as Jackson’s campaign at Yahoo advocated the removal of then-CEO Terry Semel, who stepped down in June less than a week after the company’s annual meeting.

“We think that the company is in desperate need of some changes of direction,” Jackson told Governance Weekly. “We don’t think the solution is as simple as just replacing Mr. Zander, but [it’s] part of the solution.”

Jackson contends that Zander has done little to encourage innovation since the introduction of the of the company’s popular RAZR mobile handset. Jackson plans to seek the ouster of four longtime Motorola board members; he contends that the Illinois-based company needs new directors with more experience in the communications field.

Motorola is officially withholding comment on the matter, a company spokesman told Governance Weekly.

Jackson isn’t the first shareholder to try for change at Motorola. Earlier this year, billionaire investor Carl Icahn staged a proxy contest, aiming to win a seat on the company’s board. The bid narrowly failed, but Icahn won 45 percent of “for” and “against” votes, according to news reports, including shares of some significant Motorola stakeholders such as ClearBridge Investments, which held a 2.2 percent stake.

Jackson said that he received a pledge of 47,000 shares from fellow Motorola shareholders in the first 24 hours after launching his “Plan B” effort, and 120 people representing 600,000 shares after the first week.

According to Jackson, his campaign at Yahoo won the support of holders of over 2 million shares. In advance of Motorola’s 2008 meeting--a date for which has yet to be announced, Jackson said, “we’re well on our way to surpassing Yahoo.” --L. Reed Walton

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