July 30, 2008

Pickens Sells All Yahoo Shares In Disapproval

Billionaire and Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens has sold all of his investments in Yahoo Inc. in response to the way the Internet company handled a takeover bid from Microsoft Corp.

In a story published Tuesday in the San Francisco Chronicle, Pickens referred to Yahoo's management of the matter as "pathetic."

He told the Chronicle that he sold all 10 million of his shares for a loss, because he disapproved of how the company ignored Microsoft's offers.

Pickens gave no specifics on how much he lost in the sale, but he acquired his stake in mid-May when Yahoo was trading between $24 and $28 per share.

Yahoo's stock price has hovered below $22.50 over the past week, meaning Pickens probably lost tens of millions of dollars.

Pickens invested in Yahoo largely as a bet on activist investor Carl Icahn, who had launched a campaign to oust Yahoo's board in hopes of reviving Microsoft's takeover bid.

The growing voice of opposition from Yahoo shareholders is expected to come later this week as Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang and his fellow board members are scheduled to gather at the company's annual meeting Friday.

Many shareholders are infuriated because Yang, acting on behalf of the board, rejected Microsoft's offer to buy Yahoo for $33 per share in early May. Microsoft withdrew the bid after Yang sought $37 per share, a price Yahoo's stock hasn't reached in 2 1/2 years.

The Internet company's market value has been stagnant at about $20 billion under Microsoft's takeover bid.

Microsoft also has twice offered to buy Yahoo's online search operations in more complex deals that also were rejected.

After Icahn was able to persuade Microsoft only to make an offer for a part of Yahoo, he negotiated a truce that will give him and two of his allies seats on Yahoo's expanded board.

Although eight of the nine Yahoo directors who spurned Microsoft will remain on the board, Icahn is still holding out hope that he can help negotiate a sale.

Yahoo shares gained 3 cents Tuesday to finish at $20.15.


On the Net: