We can spend a lot of time analyzing how Yahoo really feels about Carl Icahn and his rival slate. But this, found at the top of Yahoo’s latest proxy filing and its homepage, says it all.
Time Warner’s talks with Yahoo and separately with Microsoft have taken on renewed urgency as a pivotal Yahoo annual shareholders meeting approaches, a source tells us.
But are the discussions earnest or is AOL being used as a pawn in an increasingly ugly battle that will ultimately lead to a linkup of Microsoft and Yahoo? It’s hard to tell at this point as a steady stream news, punctuated by public accusations of “misleading” statements come from Microsoft, Yahoo and billionaire investor Carl Icahn, make handicapping the outcome difficult.
Icahn, who holds a 5 percent stake in Yahoo, has waged a proxy battle to remove Yahoo’s board and has aligned himself with Microsoft to seal a deal.
Thanks to New York Times Andrew Ross Sorkin’s DealBook blog here’s a sked of who’s going to be speaking at this year’s annual media mogul and new media upstart get-together organized by Allen & Company in Idaho’s Sun Valley.
Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, IAC/InterActive Corp’s CEO Barry Diller, and Google co-founder Larry Page will be among those speaking today.
Other key names speaking tomorrow include Sir Howard Stringer, chairman of Sony Corp. , Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of Dreamworks Animation.
Asked by CNBC reporter Julia Boorstin whether he was buying anything, he shot back, “Not today. Not this week.”
That might provide some small comfort for shareholders who have sent shares of News Corp sinking close to 30 percent since the beginning of the year on a variety of issues, including a sluggish economy and threats of an advertising recession. Shareholders also craw about the dreaded “Murdoch Discount” — investor concern the media tycoon will suddenly make another a big purchase.
They call it the Duck Pond, but it’s actually teaming with (vicious) swans. It’s considered a big media and tech powwow, but a broad swath of global corporate titans of finance and politics round out the guest list.
It’s the 26th annual Allen & Co Sun Valley conference, where high-wattage huddles transpiring on the tranquil resort grounds among stunningly rich business people swathed in questionable leisure wear could end up in big deals months from now. The legend springs from the track record: AOL and Time Warner, Walt Disney and CapCities/ABC, Google and YouTube are all said to have gotten started here.
In between knitting (!), yoga, white-water rafting and golfing, and bridge (!) games execs like Google’s trio Eric Schmidt, Larry Page and Sergey Brin mix it up Disney’s Bob Iger, Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes and News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch.
Yahoo shares have fallen 20 percent since talks with Microsoft broke up, and some shareholders are blaming big egos for the failure.
Robert Hagstrom, a portfolio manager at Legg Mason Capital Management, the third-biggest institutional shareholder of Yahoo, said the only way to try to catch up with Google is to put Microsoft and Yahoo together:
I thought the dynamic was great. Unfortunately, personalities got involved, egos got involved and that I think disrupted negotiations. I was shocked, shocked that Microsoft walked away.
Microsoft’s problem is that 80 percent of its business is going to go away one day… Microsoft has to figure a way to get a lot of eyeballs. Well, who’s got the most eyeballs after Google? Yahoo. I didn’t see why this couldn’t go together.
With Yahoo shares trading just above $20, investors must be desperate for any sign that buyout talks with Microsoft could be resuscitated. It’s been relatively quiet since Yahoo struck the Google ad deal — with nary a peep from the usually loquacious activist investor Carl Icahn, who has been blogging about CEO pay but keeping silent on where he will take his Yahoo proxy battle.
So it’s no surprise that Yahoo shares jumped as much as 15 percent on Tuesday after TechCrunch reported that Microsoft and Yahoo are back in takeover talks, citing multiple sources at both companies.
But investors’ hopes were short-lived with CNBC quickly knocking down that rumor, saying its source thinks there are no new negotiations between Microsoft and Yahoo.
Take-Two Interactive CEO Ben Feder told us yesterday the company is in formal discussions with a range of parties interested in its “strategic alternatives,” which could involve a sale.
But they didn’t say with whom.
The “Grand Theft Auto” game maker has been fending off the unsolicited advances of Electronic Arts‘ $2 billion offer since March. At the time, Take-Two management deemed the $25.74 per share offer too low, charging EA with low-balling the company ahead of the release of the latest from its hit criminal action franchise. Take-Two traded at $27.52 on Friday morning.
So, who else might be a potential white knight? Time Warner, which has made no secret of its ambitions in the games arena, would be a nice fit, although we’re hearing they’re not in this one. Just this week the company led a $40 million round of financing for online games developer Turbine Entertainment, on the heels of a $30 million investment in April in “Lara Croft” maker SCi Entertainment Group.
Details of the backroom dealings between Microsoft and Yahoo from an investor lawsuit were unsealed by Delaware Chancery Court Judge William Chandler on Monday.
The document adds some color to what we already know, including a history of rebuffing offers dating back to 2007, criticism over the size of Yahoo’s severance plan by its own consultants and Yahoo’s recently hired CTO.
Notes by a Yahoo participant from a phone call between CEO Jerry Yang and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Ballmer also appear to indicate that Yang quickly rejected Microsoft’s January 2008 overtures, as his predecessor Terry Semel did a year before (at the far higher price of $40).
We’re moving into summer now — peak wedding time. Naturally, all sorts of mergers are on the mind.
Take a much-speculated about combination of Time Warner and NBC Universal, a subject that inevitably pops up when anybody talks about potential mergers in the media world. Thanks to Newsweek, it’s once again making the rounds.
Here’s the key takeway from the article:
And so they have begun preliminary efforts to explore a commingling of their entertainment assets-combining GE’s NBC Universal with Time Warner-in hopes of eventually igniting investor enthusiasm and pumping up their stock prices, according to media-industry executives familiar with the developments but not authorized to comment.