Impatient with Yahoo, some investors cheer Starboard effort

Thu Mar 31, 2016 6:11am EDT
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By Ross Kerber and Deborah M. Todd

BOSTON/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP's campaign to replace Yahoo Inc's YHOO.O board of directors is being welcomed by some investors who have grown impatient with the faded Internet pioneer's drawn-out process of selling its Web business.

Starboard, which owns about 1.7 percent of Yahoo, said last week it was seeking to remove the entire board of the company after pushing for changes since 2014.

Four years after Marissa Mayer took over as chief executive and promised a turnaround, Yahoo continues its struggle to keep up with Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O: Quote) Google and Facebook Inc (FB.O: Quote) in the battle for online advertisers.

Yahoo shares have risen about 5 percent since March 23, the day before Starboard called for the changes. The stock has fallen 18 percent over the past 12 months, but is up 10 percent so far in 2016.

More than a half-dozen investors of various sizes and investment strategies contacted by Reuters this week, including an executive at one of Yahoo's 10 largest shareholders, all praised Starboard's move as one that would help provoke necessary changes.

Many investors declined to comment, making it hard to determine if Starboard's move would succeed. The shareholders who spoke represent a small percentage of what Starboard would need to take control of the board.

Yahoo declined to comment for this article.

In February, Yahoo said it would auction off its core business while attempting to split its stakes in Chinese e-commerce leader Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N: Quote) and Yahoo Japan from the rest of the business. Yahoo holds a 15.27 percent stake in Alibaba and a 35.49 percent stake in Yahoo Japan.   Continued...

A man walks past a Yahoo logo during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Albert Gea