Sunday, May 04, 2008

Reuters: Dissident Yahoo shareholder plans vote campaign

Sun May 4, 2008 3:45pm EDT
By Anupreeta Das

SAN FRANCISCO, May 4 (Reuters) - Dissident Yahoo Inc (YHOO.O: Quote, Profile, Research) shareholder Eric Jackson said on Sunday he plans to urge Yahoo shareholders to withhold votes from all directors at their annual meeting because the company failed to cut a deal with Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research).

"Significant value was left on the table yesterday at the meeting in Seattle," Jackson said in a phone interview, adding that he and several other shareholders were surprised and disappointed at the outcome of the talks.

Jackson, who leads Plan B, a group of about 140 outspoken shareholders who collectively own 2 million Yahoo shares, said he expects Yahoo shares to slide to the "low-20s, perhaps breach $19" when the market opens on Monday. Yahoo shares closed Friday's session at $28.67 and have traded in that neighborhood since Microsoft made its offer three months ago.

"Shareholders didn't even get a chance to vote on the deal, but the board negotiated on our behalf and not in good faith," Jackson said.

Last June, Jackson became the star of Yahoo's annual meeting where he led a move to challenge the direction of the company.

At the meeting, Jackson accused the then chairman and CEO, Terry Semel, of mismanaging the company and failing to do more to revive its stock price.

Jackson, who runs investment firm Ironfire Capital, had spearheaded a move at the meeting against board-nominated directors. The campaign resulted in a hefty minority vote against the re-election of Semel, who stepped down as CEO a week later, and Roy Bostock, the current board chairman.

In February, Jackson was also the first among Yahoo shareholders to speak out against Yahoo's expected rejection of Microsoft's offer. At the time, the Plan B group offered to sell their shares to Microsoft or the highest bidder.

But Jackson doesn't think a partnership between Yahoo and Google Inc (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research), which would center on Yahoo displaying advertising from Google along with its own search results, would pacify shareholders. Yahoo could announce such a deal with Google in the coming week, a person familiar with the discussions told Reuters earlier.

Microsoft's offer still provides the best value for Yahoo, Jackson said.

"The bottom line is that shareholders need some new representation," said Jackson, who plans to launch his campaign via the Internet in the next few days. (Editing by Andre Grenon and Braden Reddall)

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