Yahoo Holds Its Ground on Microsoft, Growth Plan

Yahoo headquarters
Source: Yahoo

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Yahoo tried to soothe angry investors at its annual meeting on Friday, insisting it had been serious about talks to sell itself to Microsoft and that it had good growth prospects in the next three years.

Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) Chairman Roy Bostock said the company’s board “called the shots” when discussing Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) proposals, including a $47.5 billion buyout bid as well as attempts to buy Yahoo’s Web search business.

There was never any doubt that directors were open to a deal with Microsoft, he said, adding that he could not understand why the software maker withdrew its full takeover offer.

“There was never a compelling offer put on the table,” Bostock said at the meeting at a hotel in San Jose, Calif. “That never occurred in this process.”

Yahoo shareholders were due to take the floor later in the meeting to ask questions, though a few early comments highlighted the dissatisfaction that has dogged Yahoo’s share price since talks about a full Microsoft acquisition broke apart in May.

One shareholder said he wanted to know how much time Yahoo directors spent doing their jobs to earn their pay.

“I’d like to see time sheets posted on the Internet for the work of the directors as well as the executives of the company,” said Dirk Neyhart, a retired stockbroker from Berkeley, Calif., who said he holds less than 1,000 shares of Yahoo. He holds shares in more than 600 companies, he said.

Bostock said he would be happy to comply, given the hours spent negotiating with Microsoft over the last six months.

“It’s been about 26 hours in the course of a 24-hour day,” Bostock said.

Nine Yahoo candidates were standing for election to the board on Friday, including Bostock and Chief Executive Jerry Yang, who have borne the brunt of investor anger over the collapsed deal.

Last week, Yahoo agreed to expand its board to 11 members after the annual meeting to accommodate activist investor Carl Icahn and two of his candidates. Yahoo director Robert Kotick, the chief executive of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVID), will resign after Friday’s meeting to open one board seat.

[cob:Special_Report]Icahn had demanded that Yahoo offer to sell itself to Microsoft, but agreed to settle for the board seats after Microsoft made it clear it no longer would pursue a deal.

In a blog post on Thursday, Icahn downplayed the annual meeting’s importance and said he would skip it.

Yahoo shares fell 18 cents to $19.71, not far above the $19.18 that they fetched the day before Microsoft made its interest public. Microsoft’s last offer for the company would have valued Yahoo at $33 per share.

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