Activist Yahoo shareholder Daniel Loeb has rejected the slate of board candidates put forth by the company’s newly minted CEO, serving notice of his intention to lobby for his own candidates instead.
Loeb, whose hedge fund, Third Point LLC, owns 5.2 percent of Yahoo’s outstanding shares, has long lobbied for a restructuring of the company’s board. His nominations suggest the four new members proposed by incoming CEO Scott Thompson do not alleviate his concerns.
The move could trigger a lengthy and distracting battle over the direction of the company, and comes as talks about what Yahoo will do with its valuable Asian asset Alibaba reportedly have collapsed.
A source close to the matter said Loeb’s move reflects his belief that Yahoo needs to intensify its focus on media and on advertising. Loeb’s nominees include Jeffrey Zucker, a former CEO of NBC Universal, and Michael Wolf, who serves on the boards of several media companies.
“Loeb wants the media strategy to continue,” said Charlene Li, the founder of Altimeter Group. “Scott Thompson has said, ‘We ain’t gonna do the media strategy. We need to focus on technology.’ “
Asked who she thought was right, Li said:, “Yahoo makes its money from advertising and it will for the foreseeable future. But being a straight media company without technology to back it up is foolhardy.”
A likely outcome is that Loeb will succeed in seating one or two of his preferred members on the board, Li said, which could achieve the balance of media and technology that she thinks the company needs.