Activist investor turns up heat on Yahoo, seeks leadership change

Wed Jan 6, 2016 2:33pm EST
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By Michael Flaherty and Lehar Maan

(Reuters) - Activist investor Starboard Value LP on Wednesday ramped up pressure on Yahoo Inc YHOO.O, taking aim at Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer and her leadership team and raising the prospect that a proxy battle is approaching.

Starboard in a letter to the board of directors implied that Mayer and her officers needed to go, without naming her specifically.

"To be successful, dramatically different thinking is required, together with significant changes across all aspects of the business starting at the board level, and including executive leadership," Starboard CEO Jeffrey Smith said in the letter on Wednesday.

Starboard, which owns about 0.75 percent of Yahoo, has been pushing for changes at the Internet company since 2014, urging it to separate its Asian assets and auction off the core business.

Starboard has threatened to shake up the board if Yahoo's stock continued to suffer.

Yahoo shares fell 0.2 percent to $32.28, far below a 12-month high of $50.41.

"Unfortunately, it appears that shareholders have no confidence that management and the board will be able to execute on a separation of these assets or improve the performance of the core business," Smith said in the letter.

Yahoo spokeswoman Rebecca Neufeld said the company will provide more details on its turnaround plan prior to its fourth quarter earnings call later this month.   Continued...

Marissa Mayer, President and CEO of Yahoo, participates in a panel discussion at the 2015 Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco, California November 3, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage