Icahn helps himself to some Yahoo

November 28, 2008

Activist investor Carl Icahn helped himself to some early Thanksgiving turkey, buying more shares in Yahoo on Wednesday.

Here’s Silicon Alley Insider’s Henry Blodget with the basics:

Well, don’t accuse Carl Icahn of cutting and running. After losing $1 billion on his massive Yahoo bet–he bought 69 million shares last spring at about $25–Carl Icahn has (figuratively speaking) doubled down.

In the past three days, the raider has bought another 6.7 million shares of Yahoo for about $65 million, bringing his total to 75.6 million shares. At today’s closing price of $10.58, Carl’s stake is worth $800 million, about $900 million less than he paid for his original position. The 76 million shares amount to 5.4% of the company.

The Associated Press explains why this could be important:

Yahoo is looking for a new leader after co-founder Jerry Yang said earlier this month that he will step down as chief executive as soon as the company’s board finds a successor.

Icahn has been among the loudest voices arguing for a new direction at Yahoo. He threatened to nominate a new slate of directors after the Sunnyvale, California, company rejected a $47.5 billion takeover offer from Microsoft this summer. Yahoo gave him a seat on its board and two other slots for members of his choosing.

And Kara Swisher on her Boomtown blog at AllThingsD speculates on Icahn’s motive:

BoomTown is guessing that the billionaire investor thinks he can recoup some of his massive losses in Yahoo, as Jerry Yang prepares to step down and the board, on which Icahn sits, and names a new leader.

That’s why my guess is that the choice of a new CEO is likely to be sooner than later and much more Icahn-friendly.

Keep an eye on

  • Speaking of Blodget, here’s a profile that explains why he is smarter than you when it comes to media, though he’s also probably on more hate lists. (Wired)
  • Farhad Manjoo lists items (Blu-Ray DVD players, photo printers, FM iPod transmitters) that you’d be better off not buying this holiday season. Manjoo reminds readers that shareholder value begins with figuring out how to seduce suckers into buying stuff. (Slate)
  • A federal bailout of U.S. newspapers is an idea rejected by every newspaper executive I’ve spoken with, on the grounds that it doesn’t make sense to have the watchdog of government become the lapdog of government. But a state bailout? (The Bristol Press)

(Photo: Reuters)

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[…] going on ’round here: Carl Icahn has bought up more Yahoo, increasing his stake to 5.5% of the company. Ten guesses what he wants to do with it—oh, […]

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