Yahoo Hopes to Fight Back at Activist Shareholder Third Point With More New Board Members of Its Own
Yahoo leadership, betting it can stave off a challenge from activist shareholder Daniel Loeb of Third Point, has been stepping up efforts to name three additional new board members to replace directors that are leaving.
Yahoo has already named two of the five open slots — former Rovi CEO Fred Amoroso and LiveOps Chairman (and former CEO) Maynard Webb, who was once COO of eBay.
But now, the company is pushing harder to get the last three on board in light of Third Point’s ever-increasing proxy pressure.
Several sources said that Yahoo’s new CEO Scott Thompson has told people inside and outside the Silicon Valley Internet giant that the threat from Third Point, which owns almost six percent of the company, is not as worrisome as some think it could be.
Thus, Yahoo’s headhunting firm Heidrick & Struggles has been contacting a number of high-profile media players about joining the board, including former News Corp. execs Peter Chernin and Tony Vinciquerra, as well as former MTV head Judy McGrath.
Both Chernin and Vinciquerra, sources said, have turned down the prospect of joining the Yahoo board in the midst of a possible proxy battle, along with other massive changes taking place.
Yahoo has not yet been successful at landing the remaining directors.
Meanwhile, Loeb, via saucy letters and filings, has been aggressively making a case that Yahoo should add his alternate slate of directors, including former NBC head Jeff Zucker, to the board. He recently submitted preliminary proxy filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
That’s because his cursory discussions with Thompson have apparently led nowhere, causing him to also publicly call for Yahoo to pay more attention to Third Point’s board selections.
If Yahoo names more directors to replace outgoing ones, it will be a slap in the face to Loeb, followed by inevitable ground battle war for investor votes.
Yes, that too.
Here’s a video from the WSJ.com’s “Digits” online tech show I did on the topic: