DealZone

Calm waters run deep

August 6, 2008

Jerry YangYahoo’s Gerry Yang may have thought that giving Carl Icahn a board seat would calm the roiling waters that threatened to pull the chief executive under. But a recount of the vote for its board revealed a strong protest vote against five of nine directors, including Yang. The Internet company said revised vote tallies showed 33.7 percent of votes withheld for Yang, the company’s co-founder. That’s more than twice the opposition to his reappointment to the board as in the disputed first count. Yang has been under pressure for months over failed attempts by Microsoft Corp to buy Yahoo and over questions about his leadership. Analysts were split over whether the recount, while potentially emboldening for critics, was a symbolic embarrassment to the leadership or a new threat to its power. Ahead of the Aug. 1 meeting, Yahoo settled a proxy fight with Icahn, giving the billionaire investor and two members of his proposed slate seats on an expanded board of 11 members instead of the previous nine.

Austrian oil and gas group OMV has called off its unsolicited $23 billion bid offer for Hungarian rival MOL, saying European Union restrictions were too tough to make the deal worthwhile. The move ends an acrimonious year-long standoff between the companies that had begun to irritate some investors and weighed on OMV’s share price. The stock rose nearly 8 percent to a three-week high of 45.60 euros on relief a deal was off. “It was a bad strategic move to make an offer, so this should just narrow the situation,” said Erste Bank analyst Jakub Zidon.

And here’s one from the unwanted advances department: Acquisitive miner XstrataLonmin, unveiled a $10 billion takeover bid for the world’s third-biggest platinum producer, to diversify its business from industrial metals such as copper. South Africa-focused Lonmin swiftly rejected the bid as its shares soared 51 percent to a high of 35 pounds on Wednesday, slightly over Xstrata’s planned offer of 33 pounds a share. Lonmin – and this perhaps is no big surprise — rejected the bid as undervaluing the firm.

Other deals of the day:

* Hunting is to sell its Canadian-based oil and gas division Gibson Energy to private equity firms Riverstone Holdings and Carlyle Group for C$1,270 million ($1.22 billion).

* China’s Tongling Nonferrous Metals said it planned to buy a 51 percent stake in a copper smelter based in Inner Mongolia for 450 million yuan ($65.7 million).

* Newly-formed memory chip maker Numonyx announced a big expansion to its tie-up with South Korea’s Hynix Semiconductor, as the former makes a new push into the NAND memory sector.

* Shares in Sony Corp traded higher after the electronics maker said it had agreed to buy Bertelsmann’s 50 percent stake in their Sony BMG music joint venture for around $900 million.

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