| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Feb 10 A dissident group of
Yahoo Inc (YHOO.O) shareholders said on Sunday it had launched
a campaign to sell their shares as a block, breaking ranks with
Yahoo as it faces an unsolicited takeover bid from Microsoft
Eric Jackson, leader of an outspoken group of 100 current
and former Yahoo employees that own 2.1 million shares and call
themselves "Yahoo Plan B," said his group was prepared to
negotiate separately with Microsoft or any other bidder.
"We have no desire to see Yahoo! continue independently
with the current board and management team in place. We believe
that is a recipe for a $17 stock price," Jackson wrote on his
blog site, which can be found at tinyurl.com/3yglgz/.
"Therefore, we will band together as a group and agree to
sell our Yahoo! shares to the highest bidder," Jackson wrote.
Jackson called on other investors to join the block. The
2.1 million shares he said he and his group own is a tiny
fraction of the roughly 1.4 billion Yahoo shares outstanding.
But his group is the first among Yahoo shareholders to
speak out publicly against the company's expected rejection of
Jackson was the star of Yahoo's annual meeting last June,
where he led a move to challenge the direction of the company.
In the meeting's most memorable moment, Jackson accused
then Chairman and Chief Executive Terry Semel of mismanaging
the company and failing to do more to revive its share price.
Microsoft recently said it was prepared to make an
unsolicited bid for Yahoo that valued it at $31 a share, or
$44.6 billion. The value of the deal has slid in line with
Microsoft shares to a current level of $41.8 billion.
Yahoo's board is expected to reject Microsoft's offer as
too low, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters on
The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that
Yahoo's board thinks Microsoft's offer "massively" undervalues
the company and is unlikely to consider anything below $40 a
share, quoting a person familiar with the matter.
Yahoo's stock, which traded above $40 two years ago, has
been hammered more recently due to competitive pressures from
Google Inc (GOOG.O), product missteps, management defections
and restructuring moves.
Yahoo shares touched their 52-week low of $18.58 a day
before Microsoft made its offer to Yahoo's board on Jan. 31 and
closed their most recent trading session at $29.20.
Earlier this week, the New York Post reported that Capital
Research and Management, which owns 11 percent of Yahoo and 6
percent of Microsoft, had met with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
to see if he would raise the $31 offer if Yahoo rebuffs it.
At Yahoo's June 2007 annual meeting, Jackson, who runs an
investment firm called Ironfire Capital, had spearheaded a move
to vote against board-nominated directors.
The campaign resulted in a hefty minority vote against the
re-election of Semel, who resigned a week afterward as chief
executive, and Roy Bostock, who was named Yahoo chairman two
weeks ago when Semel stepped down.
"I am surprised that you didn't apologize for the last
three years of performance," Jackson had told Semel in front of
shareholders at the meeting.
(Editing by Braden Reddall)