Looks like Yahoo’s (YHOO) boardroom blitz is on. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has decided to move forward with a proxy fight to oust Yahoo’s entire board in favor of one more amenable to merger negotiations with Microsoft (MSFT).
“It is unconscionable that you have not allowed your shareholders to choose to accept an offer that represented a 72% premium over Yahoo’s closing price of $19.18 on the day before the initial Microsoft offer,” Icahn wrote in a letter to Yahoo’s leadership. “I and many of your shareholders strongly believe that a combination between Yahoo and Microsoft would form a dynamic company and more importantly would be a force strong enough to compete with Google on the Internet.”
So strongly, in fact, that Icahn–who owns 59 million Yahoo shares–has asked the Federal Trade Commission for permission to buy as much as $2.5 billion more of the company’s stock and has assembled a 10-member alternative board slate. Among the directors nominated, Icahn himself, his lieutenant Keith Meister, former Viacom Inc. (VIA) Chief Executive Frank J. Biondi Jr., and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (Mark Cuban?!?).
And lest there be any doubt that Icahn was gunning for anything less than a referendum on Microsoft’s takeover offer, the financier concluded his letter with a parting word of advice: “I sincerely hope you heed the wishes of your shareholders and move expeditiously to negotiate a merger with Microsoft, thereby making a proxy fight unnecessary.”
What’s not yet clear is whether Microsoft is even willing to resume merger talks. Though it’s certainly possible that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Icahn have been having some back-channel chats about the issue recently …
Yahoo and Microsoft are both trading higher on the news.