Yahoo rebuts Icahn: You have no plan

Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock lashes back at Carl Icahn, saying the investor misinterprets facts and has no plan beside selling the company to Microsoft.

Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock fired back at Carl Icahn Wednesday evening, accusing the investor of having no comprehension of the facts and no plan for the company besides selling it to Microsoft.

"Your letter seriously misrepresents and manipulates the facts regarding the recent events pertaining to Microsoft and Yahoo," Bostock said in a letter to Icahn. "Conspicuously absent from your letter is any credible plan for Yahoo other than a repetition of your insistence that the company should sell itself to Microsoft."

Bostock's letter came in response to one earlier in the day from Icahn, who accused Yahoo CEO of trying to sabotage Microsoft's acquisition attempt and suggested the company rescind a severance plan detailed in a shareholder lawsuit Yahoo failed to keep under seal.

The severance plan in effect would raise an acquisition price. The severance plan was indeed a major sticking point in the Microsoft-Yahoo negotiations , a source familiar with the situation said.

Here's the full text of Bostock's letter:

Dear Carl:

We are in receipt of your letter of June 4th and take issue with its content.

Your letter seriously misrepresents and manipulates the facts regarding the recent events pertaining to Microsoft and Yahoo!. You rely on, as "facts," a series of unsubstantiated allegations from a complaint filed in a Delaware court which grossly misstate the very clear record and position established by the Yahoo! Board. Let me elaborate:

You make reference to our employee retention plan but you significantly mischaracterize its purpose and its effect. In fact, you refer to it as a "Poison Pill" which could not be further from the truth. To set the record straight, the employee retention program is designed to protect the Company's assets and value during a time of uncertainty. The claim that the plan gives each of Yahoo!'s employees "the right to quit his or her job and pocket generous termination benefits at any time during the two years following a takeover..." is just plain wrong. In fact, our plan has a "double trigger" which means that in order for an employee to be eligible for benefits under our plan, there would need to be a change of control AND the employee would need to be terminated "Without Cause" or resign for "Good Reason." That means that in contrast to your assertions, an employee who simply quits his or her job would receive nothing under our plan.

The retention plan is intended to help us preserve and enhance shareholder value by allowing Yahoo! to continue to attract and retain the industry's best talent, and to allow employees to stay focused on implementing Yahoo!'s business strategy. In fact, the plan was adopted in order to protect the value of Yahoo! in anticipation of a possible acquisition by Microsoft which would have resulted in a lengthy regulatory review and a significant period of uncertainty for our employees. In adopting this plan, we believe Yahoo! did the right thing for its employees and its shareholders alike.

This plan was fully disclosed at the time of its adoption and should be no surprise to anyone at this point. It was disseminated to employees, publicly filed and extensively covered by the media. Significantly, as you note, Microsoft had indicated that it was prepared to spend $1.5 billion on retention incentives indicating that they too recognized that the retention of Yahoo! employees would have been critical if there had been an acquisition.

Finally, you significantly misrepresent the events of the recent past. Notably, you accuse us of turning down a $40 per share offer and "sabotaging" a $33 per share offer. Again, this is patently untrue. Yahoo!'s Board of Directors has at all times been focused on maximizing shareholder value. As has been well documented, Yahoo! has engaged in thorough discussions with Microsoft over a series of months culminating in Microsoft's decision to walk away from a potential acquisition of Yahoo!. Throughout this process, which has included an exploration of multiple strategic alternatives with multiple parties, the Board has repeatedly stated that it is open to any transaction, including a sale to Microsoft, as long as it is in the best interests of shareholders.

You seem to be under the impression that somehow Microsoft will come back to the negotiating table for a full acquisition of Yahoo!. This is puzzling as I know you are aware that we have reached out to Microsoft proactively and met with them many times in the last several weeks. During this period, their message to us and to the markets has been and remains that they are not interested in pursuing a full acquisition of Yahoo!.

Conspicuously absent from your letter is any credible plan for Yahoo! other than a repetition of your insistence that the Company should sell itself to Microsoft. Indeed, your stated view that "the only way to salvage Yahoo! in the long if not short run is to merge with Microsoft" demonstrates that you have no other plan and causes one to wonder what exactly would happen to our Company if you and your nominees were to take control of Yahoo!.

Sincerely,

Roy Bostock Chairman of the Board

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About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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