And in Related News: Yahoo Shares Closed Today at $26.40 …
Turns out Jerry Yang isn’t the only Yahoo CEO to reject a buyout offer from Microsoft. His predecessor Terry Semel did as well. According to a complaint unsealed as part of a proposed class-action suit against Yahoo’s directors today, Microsoft (MSFT) offered $40 a share for Yahoo (YHOO) in January 2007. And the company refused it, just as it would later refuse the $33-per-share bid that followed a year later.
But that’s just a sidenote to the larger issues in the suit, which charges Yahoo’s directors with breach of fiduciary duty for not just rejecting Microsoft’s proposed deal, but also for going to great lengths to make it an unappealing acquisition target. “Due to their personal interests in maintaining Yahoo’s independence and their strong antipathy to Microsoft, [Yahoo co-founders Jerry Yang and David Filo] failed to consider and respond in good faith to the acquisition offers by Microsoft to the detriment of Yahoo and its shareholders,” the complaint argues. The two “used the threat of pursuing measures that make Yahoo an unattractive acquisition target, including the prospect of Yahoo abandoning its long-term business strategy in favor of a tie-up with Google that would make a Microsoft acquisition a regulatory and litigation quagmire, as an improper means to thwart Microsoft’s advances.” Moreover, “Yang convinced the board to adopt change-in-control employee severance plans that impose tremendous costs and risk for an acquirer, throwing sand in the gears of Microsoft’s plans for a smooth integration. These highly unusual plans reward employees with rich benefits if they quit and claim a constructive termination in the aftermath of a change in control.”
The plans at issue here, which would have cost Yahoo $1.5 billion, provided 100% equity acceleration for all employees. It is “a bizarre outcome if people who stick around make off worse financially than people who are laid off,” one Yahoo VP said of the plan. The company’s compensation consultant had a better word for it: “nuts.”
What was it Yang said during his interview at D6 last week? “I will probably never be a CEO again?“
Hey, he said it, not I.