(Reuters) - Activist hedge fund Third Point, which has called for the ouster of Yahoo Inc Chief Executive Scott Thompson for padding his resume, formally demanded in a letter that the Internet company provide access to all documents relating to Thompson’s hiring.
Third Point CEO Daniel Loeb, who has been waging a public battle to place his firm’s nominees on Yahoo’s board, issued an ultimatum to Yahoo on Friday demanding it sack Thompson by midday Monday.
The demand letter on Monday begins the process under a Delaware corporation law that allows a shareholder to inspect a company’s books if that person has a proper purpose and meets procedural requirements.
Yahoo, whose revenue slid by more than a fifth last year, brought in Thompson, PayPal’s former president, as chief executive in January, five months after Carol Bartz was fired.
Third Point, which last week revealed the discrepancies in Thompson’s education record, wants Yahoo to publicly reveal the process by which Thompson was vetted and disclose all minutes of any board meeting where his candidacy was discussed.
Yahoo’s board has said it is investigating the issue.
“We believe that this internal investigation by this board must not be conducted behind a veil of secrecy and shareholders deserve total transparency,” Loeb said in his latest letter on Yahoo.
Loeb started out as a trader. He opened shop in 1995 with just $3.3 million in assets under management and operated in space borrowed from David Tepper’s Appaloosa Management, a New Jersey-based hedge fund.
Yahoo’s latest troubles come as it is likely weeks away from selling 15 percent to 25 percent of Alibaba Group’s stock back to that company after months of negotiations. The deal with Alibaba, China’s largest listed e-commerce company, is expected to be designed to avoid the complexities that had hindered earlier talks, a source told Reuters last week.
Loeb has been credited with sparking previous changes on Yahoo’s board, namely the resignation of co-founder Jerry Yang and former Chairman Roy Bostock.
Yahoo’s board has come under fire from investors impatient with the company’s persisting inability to effect a turnaround, and indecisiveness over how to handle its investments in Alibaba.
Adam Seessel, director of research at Martin Capital Management, which owns Yahoo shares, said while he is a fan of Loeb, the current move by the hedge fund CEO to oust Thompson was a “head scratcher.”
“If it were normal times, this would warrant a dismissal,” Seessel said of Thompson’s padded resume. “But he’s so new and the company is in such a sensitive spot.”
“Sometimes in the heat of the battle, you can’t get rid of your commander ... and a battle is going on
Reporting by Poornima Gupta; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Steve Orlofsky