Management Turnover as Change Agent

Friday, November 28, 2008

Kara Swisher Examines Carl Icahn's Recent Acquisition of More Yahoo Shares

Kara Swisher in her Boom Town column for the The Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital today examined the surprising news (or is it?) that activist investor Carl Icahn has actually increased his shares of Yahoo stock.  Swisher concludes Icahn, who according to recent regulatory filing just bought 6.7 million additional shares of Yahoo stock, must think a new CEO is getting ready to be appointed at the struggling firm.  According to Swisher,

… my guess is that the choice of a new CEO is likely to be sooner than later and much more Icahn-friendly. 

That could point more clearly to perhaps one of two execs whom Icahn brought with him to the Yahoo (YHOO) board–either former media exec Frank Biondi Jr. or, more likely, former Nextel exec John Chapple.

Another theory is that Yahoo will pick a more low-key, tech-oriented outsider, an operational star who can get things turned around at Yahoo without a lot of fuss, similar to choices made for eBay (EBAY) in its pick of John Donahoe and Mark Hurd at Hewlett-Packard (HP) recently.

  Swisher contends Icahn is looking for a way to make back some of his losses from his early purchases of Yahoo that have declined so deeply.  I tend to believe Yahoo will go with the low-key CEO approach appointment as discussed above in her last option.  This approach seems to make the most sense for a potential turnaround over time at Yahoo.  The other possible appointments seem too risky and fraught with problems.   

Keep a close eye on possible news coming from Yahoo over the next few weeks.

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