Memo to Carl Icahn: Please Simmer Down!
One hoped that the Apple iPhone 3G media Hypestar that descended on the tech news arena would have been able to drown out the irksome bickering that has seemingly become a daily occurrence between billionaire investor Carl Icahn and Yahoo (YHOO) via dueling public letters.
But no! And, unless Microsoft (MSFT) mercifully steps in and forks over $34 a share to rebid for all of Yahoo, it’s likely this playground-level of fighting will go on until Aug. 1.
Why? Because that’s when Yahoo will hold its annual meeting, which is where Icahn’s proxy fight against the company will presumably come to a head.
Thus, it’ll be a long, hot, tit-for-tat summer and I expect my 3-year-old son–who can break out into “Kung Fu Panda” hiii-yah dementia at any moment–will be behaving better than this pair in the three months ahead.
I can’t believe that BoomTown is saying this–given that we hoped and prayed for the day when Yahoo would finally emerge from its year-long cone of silence and start talking.
As it turns out, those were the days, my friend.
Because the back-and-forth between Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock and Icahn has all the annoyance of two cats howling at each other in the alley in the middle of the night and none of the suspense.
Let’s be clear: This is mostly Icahn’s poison-pen war, trying to whip up a big dish of shareholder ire, in order to increase his threat and, of course, the possibility of a big payday for himself.
Does BoomTown imagine Icahn cares one little bit about the employees of Yahoo or the best course of action for the company?
Not even one teeny-weeny little bit. And yet, he must drone on.
Like yesterday, when Icahn fired off another of his increasingly fanciful missives on the same basic theme: Yahoo is run by idiots.
Previously, he had focused on Yahoo’s botching of the Microsoft takeover fight, the evils of the generous severance plan Yahoo put in place and then on his intention to oust Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang.
Now, Icahn is moving onto a golden oldie with an accusation that Yahoo let Google (GOOG) clean its clock over the last few years.
What? You’re kidding! Actually, even the not-so-swift Jo from “The Facts of Life” would have caught onto that fact of tech life long, long ago.
Nonetheless, Icahn blusters: “I ask again what your great ‘plan’ has been over the last few years. … Why did you permit Google to leave you in the dust?”
Previously, he had meandered into spy-versus-spy territory with this gem: “Until now, I naively believed that self-destructive doomsday machines were fictional devices found only in James Bond movies. I never believed that anyone would actually create and activate one in real life. I guess I never knew about Yang and the Yahoo Board.”
Cue the 10-second countdown of the nuclear missile aimed at New York, as Yang strokes his white Persian cat malevolently!
Which is why it is perplexing that Yahoo chooses to so quickly engage with Icahn by answering such dopiness.
But Bostock did with the seriousness of a righteous preacher, when he stated primly last week: “Conspicuously absent from your letter is any credible plan for Yahoo other than a repetition of your insistence that the company should sell itself to Microsoft. Indeed, your stated view that ‘the only way to salvage Yahoo in the long if not short run is to merge with Microsoft’ demonstrates that you have no other plan and causes one to wonder what exactly would happen to our company if you and your nominees were to take control of Yahoo.”
Well, it is a good point, but hardly one that makes me cheer for the Yahoo side to win.
And then again yesterday, in a letter to shareholders about the upcoming annual meeting, Yahoo gave this limp defense for not backing Icahn, without including new ideas of why its incumbent board deserved a second chance:
“Given Microsoft’s stated position of not wanting to acquire Yahoo, the election of Mr. Icahn’s slate could result in substantial erosion of stockholder value.”
Apparently, there is one thing the pair do seem to agree on, and so do I: A substantial erosion of shareholder value seems inevitable as this caterwauling continues.