The Microsoft-Yahoo acquisition saga may not be over. In fact, the real juicy part may be just beginning.
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is already trying to take control of Yahoo’s board of directors. Now he’s telling The Wall Street Journal that he’ll get rid of Jerry Yang — who’s not only the Yahoo CEO, he’s also a co-founder — if his proxy bid is successful.
“It’s no longer a mystery to me why Microsoft’s offer isn’t around,” Icahn said. “How can Yahoo keep saying they’re willing to negotiate and sell the company on the one hand, while at the same time they’re completely sabotaging the process without telling anyone?”
Icahn made these latest comments after a Delaware court unsealed a lawsuit that shareholders filed against Yahoo earlier this year. The suit says Yahoo rejected a $40-per-share offer from Microsoft way back in Janaury 2007, then set up a generous severance plan for employees who would lose their jobs in the aftermath of an acquisition — a deterrent for any potential suitor.
Yang has taken most of the blame for Microsoft pulling its offer, but he does have supporters — or at least people who see his point of view. BusinessWeek, for one, gives some “reasonable justifications” for the actions of Yang and his board (namely, holding out for more money).
And Icahn isn’t exactly the most popular guy in the tech world, either. Information Week blogger Eric Zeman asks if Icahn is the “biggest egomaniac ever” and questions his real motivation for sticking his nose in Yahoo’s business.
When Microsoft first made its offer, partners wondered if the potential Yahoo acquisition would become a distraction. There’s been a lull for the past month or so, but it looks like those questions will be on the rise again.