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Yahoo Pleads Its Case


Board's future at stake in Icahn battle.

There's no love lost between billionaire Carl Icahn and his good friends at Yahoo! (YHOO). Over the past month, he's repeatedly said that Yahoo's board acted "irrationally" in rejecting Microsoft's (MSFT) $47.5 billion takeover offer.

Icahn, who's acquired 59 million shares of Yahoo and is looking to acquire $2.5 billion more, has told anyone who'll listen that he'd send CEO Jerry Yang packing, if he had his way.

Which he might, if his attempt to replace Yahoo's nine directors is successful.

Yesterday, Yahoo -- which has heretofore been circumspect in its proxy battle with Icahn -- filed an investor presentation with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleging that "Icahn misrepresents the manner in which we negotiated with Microsoft" and that the "board remains the best and most qualified group to maximize value for Yahoo stockholders."

The presentation also put forth a timeline of Yahoo's negotiations with Microsoft, as well as reasons for the breakdown. Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw has since dismissed it as "revisionist history."

While Icahn is very much a man you might love to hate, I find it troubling that so few people are asking what Yang and company are doing to steer Yahoo back on course. Remember that negotiations broke down after Yang insisted on $37 a share, as compared with the $33 per share that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was offering - a stockprice Yahoo hasn't reached in well over 2 years.

I believe that investors are yearning for a true sense of direction. They, like Icahn, may be asking their board: "Why did you permit Google to leave you in the dust?" Yang hasn't come close to answering that question: He hasn't detailed his plans to increase shareholder value, and he hasn't put forth an aggressive vision for the future.

Playing the blame game with Icahn will accomplish neither of those things - and may drive some shareholders to unload their positions.

Given the fact that Yahoo's stock price is backsliding toward $19.18 -- its value prior to Microsoft's takeover bid -- management must come up with a plan, and soon, to end the company's financial woes.

Investors will vote on the dispute at Yahoo's annual meeting, scheduled for August 1st. In the meantime, expect Icahn to turn attention back toward himself and his agenda both in media outlets and on his personal blog - unless, of course, Yahoo's board improves investor relations by outlining a strong turnaround strategy.

Yahoo closed at $20.66, down 67 cents or 3.14%.
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