Microsoft has given weight to rebel investor Carl Icahn’s bid to unseat the Yahoo! board. The software company has announced it would be willing to discuss a potential Yahoo! deal if it had a different board.
Microsoft has previously distanced itself from Icahn’s move to unseat Yahoo!’s board, but revealed yesterday it had held talks with him “in the past week.” Icahn said in an open letter to Yahoo!’s board that he had spoken to Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer frequently in the past week in conversations that lasted “as long as an hour.”
Microsoft has said it would be interested in discussing a deal with Yahoo! to either take the company over or buy its search arm “with large financial guarantees” if it had a new board.
The announcement comes ahead of Yahoo!’s Annual General Meeting on August 1, where shareholders will vote on whether to reinstate chief executive Jerry Yang and the rest of the board that snubbed Microsoft’s £23.6bn bid for Yahoo!.
Yahoo! responded by announcing it was still open to negotiating an offer from Microsoft, but that after Yahoo! approached Microsoft in June about such an offer it was told Microsoft was no longer interested. It added it felt any effort by Ballmer and Icahn to force Yahoo! into selling its search business to Microsoft was not in the best interests of Yahoo! shareholders.
Microsoft’s interest in Yahoo! had waned after Yahoo! and Google announced a search advertising partnership with Google in June.