Wednesday, June 4, 2008

How YHOO may respond to Icahn's letter

Henry, as I mentioned earlier, the severance agreement or the poison pill, whatever we call it, applies to all full-time employees in YHOO, not just the top executives. Also from the YHOO sec filing yesterday, this poison pill would get triggered even if Icahn takes control of the board (i.e >=5 board members). So it would be difficult for Icahn to rally support for his slate, with the "change in control" provisions that guarantee significant benefits to _ALL_ fulltime employees of YHOO. MSM seems to miss this point.

Icahn's letter sounds like a ploy to get rid of this change in control provision, so that its easier for him to rally support for a proxy fight. I can't imagine big shareholders supporting Icahn's slate unless the new change in control provisions are taken out by the current YHOO BOD. Based on the history so far, its going to be an uphill battle for Icahn trying to get YHOO BOD to take off the provisions without a stronger and well-defined offer from MSFT. MSFT could offer a better offer conditional on YHOO taking off those provisions. But considering the beating its stock has taken so far, this is very unlikely.

YHOO can respond to Icahn letter saying that they are just trying to retain and attract employees with these new change in control provisions - considering that MSFT's offer has caused significant uncertainty as to the future direction of the company.

From YHOO's filing: "The Change in Control Severance Plans are designed, in light of the uncertainty caused by the Microsoft proposal, to help retain the Company’s employees, maintain a stable work environment and provide certain economic benefits to the employees in the event their employment is actually or constructively terminated in connection with a change in control of the Company."

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