Yahoo's agreement with Icahn fizzles the boardroom fight
What had been built up to become one of the most explosive corporate boardroom battles in history, by multiple sources (BetaNews among them...guilty as charged), ended up being a near picture-perfect example of resolve.
Last week's Yahoo shareholders' meeting, which could have pitted the forces of Carl Icahn's investment empire against some of the founders of modern Internet media, ended up as a vindication of the board's plan, announced on July 21, to pare down its existing board membership to eight, and then make room for three new members from Icahn's slate, including Icahn himself.
"We are redoubling our commitment to driving sustained, profitable growth for our stockholders," reads a statement last Friday by CEO Jerry Yang, whose board membership was re-upped by a vote of 85.4% of outstanding shares. "The value inherent in Yahoo's unique collection of assets is truly extraordinary, and the progress we've made on our initiatives this year signals our ability to capitalize on the underlying potential of these assets."
Even Activision Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick, who announced his retirement from the board last month to make room for Icahn -- as well as to make time for his own newly merged business -- was officially re-upped as a board member, with a positive vote from 92.4% of outstanding shares. Receiving the greatest number of shares withheld (representing shareholders not in favor of continuance) was Arthur Kern, the chairman of American Media -- the publisher of the National Enquirer with 22.1% of shares withheld, followed by Yahoo's own chairman, Roy Bostock, with 20.5% of shares withheld. Yang sailed through with 14.6% withheld.
After all the tumult, Yahoo may likely emerge from all of this as a stronger competitor against Microsoft. Three Icahn members on the Yahoo board may result in some management disputes down the road, but it will not necessarily mean that the company's stewardship is in any particular danger. The company can continue to refine its own advertising platform, and will retain partial or majority control of its lucrative Asian properties.