Tuesday, June 12, 2007

CNBC: Activist Yahoo Investor Gunning for CEO Semel

From yesterday's CNBC Closing Bell:

Yahoo is a top Internet destination -- but that hasn't brought bliss to all of the Web portal's shareholders. One particularly disgruntled stockholder is Eric Jackson, president and CEO of Jackson Leadership Systems. He explained to "Closing Bell" viewers why he intends to hold Yahoo CEO Terry Semel's "feet to the fire" at the company's annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday.

Jackson cited Yahoo's "underperformance" compared with key rival Google: Over the past 12 months, Semel's firm lost 9.78% of its share value, while Google gained 33.19%. And the management consultant said the comparison looks even worse over a 3-year period during which Google has leaped some 300% since its IPO.

CNBC's Maria Bartiromo pressed Jackson to take a longer view: She noted that over five years, Yahoo showed a gain of 245%. But Jackson scoffed at the statistic, attributing it to the "general recovery" in the ad market that "lifted all boats." He believes that "anyone in the CEO's seat" would have enjoyed the ad rally in the months after the dot-com bubble popped.

Jackson said he's familiar with a "frustration that's palpable -- and institutional": He has spoken to "a bunch of the top ten ten holders" of Yahoo shares, including "some of the largest pension funds" in America. He said his fellow stockholders are aghast that Yahoo management "missed the boat" on acquisition targets like MySpace (bought by News Corp.), YouTube and DoubleClick (both snapped up by Google) -- and Google itself, for that matter.

The dissident investor said his coterie will urge all shareholders to vote against seven of the ten directors on the board slate Tuesday.

Click here to see the interview.

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