last week we said that the proxy fight between Carl Icahn and the Yahoo board was going to drag on until at least August. In a surprising twist of event, it now seems the battle is almost over, as Yahoo today announced an agreement with Icahn, who will get a seat on the Yahoo board. The board will be expanded from 9 to 11 members. At the shareholder meeting in August, 8 of the 9 current board members will stand for re-election.Just
Only Robert Kotick has decided to abandon his seat on the board. The two additional new members to the board will be picked from Icahn's slate of candidates. According to most analysts, one of those new board members is most likely going to be Jonathan Miller, the former CEO of AOL.
As Larry Dignan points out, this deal has a precedent in Icahn's proxy fight with Motorola in 2007. In the end, there, too, Icahn got seats for his picks on an expanded Motorola board, though this did nothing to improve the performance of Motorola's stock.
While this current deal gives the Yahoo board a chance to focus once again and getting Yahoo back on track, it remains to be seen what Icahn is going to do once he takes his seat on the board. Given his intense focus on selling at least part of Yahoo to Microsoft, it wouldn't be surprising to see him take up this topic once more.
It also remains to be seen what Microsoft will to do next. Now that a deal with Yahoo is out of the cards in the near future, we might see Microsoft pursue more search oriented acquisitions. As Microsoft can't just buy additional market share, it will either have to dramatically improve its search or seriously expand its marketing efforts to gain back the market share it has lost to Google.