Ina Fried

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Microsoft Reaches Deal With Activist Investor ValueAct

Microsoft announced late Friday that it has reached a deal with ValueAct, a San Francisco-based investor firm that had been pushing Microsoft to make better use of its assets.

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Under the deal, ValueAct president Mason Morfit will meet regularly with Microsoft directors and management, and ValueAct has the option of having Morfit join Microsoft’s board.

In statements, Morfit, outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer and Microsoft’s lead outside director, John Thompson, all praised the move and said nice things about one another.

According to a regulatory filing, ValueAct is agreeing to several conditions, including not launching a proxy fight or trying to acquire more than a specified number of shares in the company.

Pressure from ValueAct was among the factors that helped persuade Steve Ballmer to retire early, according to various sources close to the company.

ValueAct is one of Microsoft’s largest shareholders, owning just under 1 percent of the company’s shares.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik