Yahoo Investors Seek Removal Of Chairman

Official company filings have revealed the shareholder turmoil currently engulfing Yahoo

Yahoo is facing a growing number of unhappy shareholders, who are now demanding their board of directors make leadership changes.

More than three dozen Form 8K documents were filed with the US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) by investor companies in a two-day period – 13 and 14 September – urging “change in directors or principal officers.”

Leadership Change

Shareholder Daniel Loeb, who shepherds hedge fund Third Point LLC, which owns about 5 percent of the longtime web services provider, told Reuters that he wrote to board member and co-founder Jerry Yang and told him to fire Chairman Roy Bostock and several other board members in an effort to resuscitate the company after years of poor performance.

Bostock was the one who telephoned CEO Carol Bartz to fire her on 6 September after being a staunch supporter when she was hired to replace Yang in January 2009.

In one of those SEC filings, Loeb wrote that he spoke on the phone with Bostock and Yang on 12 September, saying that Yahoo “desperately needed a leadership change.” Bostock did not acknowledge any responsibility for the company’s problems, according to the legal affidavit, and said that he was not likely to step down. Bostock then hung up on Loeb, according to the filing.

The Yahoo board met in an all-day session 14 September to discuss a variety of options to bolster the company’s fortunes. Meanwhile, CFO Tim Morse is handling Yahoo’s day-to-day corporate decision making as interim CEO.

Unhappy Shareholders

Shareholders in the Sunnyvale, California-based media company have long been at odds with each other over the company’s direction. In 2008, Microsoft was reported to have put an offer worth $47 billion (£30bn) on the table to acquire the company. Shareholders were deeply divided on the offer, but the Jerry Yang-led opponents to the acquisition won out.

The pro-acquisition advocates, led by high-rolling professional investor Carl Icahn and trust fund manager Eric Jackson, eventually sold off their shares.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer later indicated that his company would probably make another run at buying Yahoo a year later, but it never did.

“Clearly, Yahoo was falling further behind the more aggressive Google,” analyst Zeus Kerravala of Yankee Group told eWEEK. “Yahoo has tremendous assets and needs a faster-acting CEO to take a bite out of Google.”