Legg Mason: We're backing Yahoo

The investment house, which owns 4.4 percent of Yahoo stock, says it will back existing management.

Margaret Kane Former Staff writer, CNET News
Margaret is a former news editor for CNET News, based in the Boston bureau.
Margaret Kane

Legg Mason Capital Management said Friday it will back Yahoo's existing management at the company's shareholder's meeting next month.

The investment firm controls about 60.7 million shares of Yahoo, which represents about 4.4 percent of outstanding Yahoo stock.

Investor Carl Icahn has proposed an alternative slate of board members, as part of a bid to get Yahoo to agree to some sort of takeover or dealwith Microsoft.

"We believe the current Board acted with care and diligence when evaluating Microsoft's offers. We believe the Board is independent and focused on value creation for long-term shareholders," Bill Miller, chairman and chief investment officer of Legg Mason said in a release. But the investment house did say that it supports continuing efforts to negotiate.

"We would prefer that the company and Mr. Icahn reach a mutual agreement on the composition of the Board and end this disruptive proxy contest," the statement says.

Icahn is backing a change of management in part because he does not think Microsoft can negotiate with the current board. But Legg Mason said that is an unacceptable reason to change management.

"While boards are there to protect shareholder interests, shareholders own the company. If Microsoft wants to acquire Yahoo, it can make the terms and conditions of its offer public. If Yahoo shareholders support it, I am confident the Board of Yahoo will accept it," Miller said in the statement.