Let us preface this post by declaring that the new website Cityfile is incredible. We’ve spent the last two days on this site reading all the profiles of the “notable and influential” New Yorkers.
Our boys at Cityfile* have just posted pictures and details of Carl Icahn’s yacht , the 180-foot Starfire, which can be yours for a week for the low price of $196,000 (during “low season”).
From the pictures, it looks like Carl can throw his share of Minnesota Vikings style parties all while blogging thanks to his high-speed WiFi. He’s got a nice big screen TV, a chess board for the intellectual inclined, and of course, an on-board chef to round out the 12 person crew.
Anybody reading got the moolah to take a ride on his yacht?
* Full disclosure: We know these guys and think they are awesome.
–Senior Ichanist Travis
Biogen Idec Inc. shareholders voted down Carl Icahn’s proposed candidates for the board, according to initial counts by the company. Icahn, who felt that Biogen’s attempt to sell itself last December was “flawed,” wanted the biotechnology company to cut costs and improve research and employee morale.
Icahn found little support for his board, as major proxy adviser firms indicated that he had “failed to prove the sale process was mismanaged.”
On a side (yet equally important) note, icahnreport.com seems to have “launched,” though at present, the site is password protected. We look forward to hearing Icahn’s thoughts on today’s news.
–by Guest Carl Icahn lecturer Travis
Carl Icahn said Tuesday that Microsoft Corp needs Yahoo to be competitive with Google over the next five years.
“They can’t compete” if the company doesn’t acquire Yahoo, he said at the annual New York Financial Writers Association Awards Dinner at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.
Icahn cited Google’s incursions into core Microsoft businesses such as word processing and spreadsheet applications. Microsoft’s Word and Excel have dominated this area for years. Google recently launched its own versions of these products, giving them away free on its website.
“Microsoft needs this company,” Icahn said. “They have to be on the internet if they’re going to compete with Google. These applications are all going online.”
Icahn owns 10 million shares of Yahoo, and has put up his own slate of directors to replace Yahoo’s board. He wants the company to rethink it’s resistance to being acquired by Microsoft, which withdrew a bid for the company earlier this year saying Yahoo was not cooperating.
Carl Icahn said today that he will seek to oust Jerry Yang as Yahoo’s CEO if he wins his proxy fight bid to control the company’s board. Was this every in doubt?
What seems to have really annoyed Icahn is information released when a Delaware judge unsealed a shareholder suit against Yahoo. The unsealed pleadings revealed that even as Yahoo was claiming to consider the Microsoft bid, it adopted an expensive an employee-severance plan that Icahn is characterizing as an underhanded poison pill meant to scuttle the deal.
“It’s no longer a mystery to me why Microsoft’s offer isn’t around,” Icahn says in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “How can Yahoo keep saying they’re willing to negotiate and sell the company on the one hand, while at the same time they’re completely sabotaging the process without telling anyone?”
In other news, the Yahoo board is scheduled to meet today.
Icahn Steps Up Yahoo Attack, Seeks Yang’s Ouster as CEO [Wall Street Journal]
Carl Icahn got the go ahead from the Federal Trade Commission to scoop up huge amounts of Yahoo stock. Icahn owns around 10 million Yahoo shares now, and has options to acquire another 49 million. He said he’s seeking clearance from the FTC to buy up to $2.5 billion of the stock.
In our not-so-free market, you need the FTC’s approval to make stock purchases worth $63 million or more.
In other news, we just noticed that Jerry Yang and Steve Ballmer apparently played golf together last weekend. They may or may not have chatted about a deal but probably not the straight-up acquisition that Icahn wants. Icahn, of course, hates executives who play golf. Is there any chance that Ballmer and Yang arranged the meeting over golf to piss off Icahn?
Icahn gets antitrust go-ahead for Yahoo stock buy [Yahoo--heh]
So Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer says the company is not looking to buy Yahoo. They’re talking about other stuff that might “create value” or some such. It’s pretty much what we learned on Sunday, when Microsoft and Yahoo disclosed that they were in negotiations.
Is a buyout really off the table? The market doesn’t seem to think so. Shares are down a bit today but not by what you’d expect them to drop if the buyout was really done. Perhaps Ballmer is just sticking to the script, playing hardball to get a better price for Yahoo.
Still, this can’t make Carl Icahn and the rest of his hedge fund cohort happy. (Then again, he’s still up about $120 million, which would keep us happy.)
Microsoft Not Bidding to Buy Yahoo: CEO Ballmer [Reuters via ABC News]
Third Point LLC, the $5.7 billion hedge fund run by acid penned yoga enthusiast Dan Loeb, is getting into the Yahoo acquisition trade, Reuter’s great Dane Hamilton is reporting. The fund has accumulated a stake of over 5 million shares, and may build a 10 million share stake. At the end of March, Third Point held only 1 million shares.
Texas oil legend T. Boone Pickens revealed this morning that he owns 10 million Yahoo, and plans to vote them in support of Carl Icahn. Paulson & Co, another large hedge fund that is bursting with funds after making a killing last year shorting subprime, disclosed last week that it holds 50 million shares and is supporting the Icahn move. Capital Research owns 85 million shares and Legg-Mason owns 83 million. Both are thought to favor a deal to sell Yahoo to Microsoft.
Third Point backs Icahn in Yahoo fight [Yahoo]
ARS-ED is a new weekly feature on what we’re learning from Andrew Ross Sorkin’s weekly column, DealBook, in the New York Times.
It was about a year and a half ago when we first saw New York Times hotshot Andrew Ross Sorkin in the same room as Carl Icahn. They were on a panel together at some midtown club, discussing exactly what you’d expect Sorkin–who runs DealBook for the Times and is the paper’s top M&A reporter (and is rumored to be in the running to take the top editorial job at the Wall Street Journal)–and Icahn to discuss: deals, CEOs and money.
(After the jump, more on what we learned at that panel and what we learned this week from Sorkin.)
Carl Icahn apparently isn’t happy with the latest talks between Microsoft and Yahoo, and it looks like the financier is using proxies to threaten to push Yahoo into Google’s arms.
Dane Hamilton at Reuters is reporting that Icahn, who holds 9 million shares and options for 49 million more, could attempt to scuttle a deal between Microsoft and Yahoo if it falls short of a complete merger.
“Microsoft is trying to get the milk without buying the cow, and if you look at Icahn’s history, he has never been used that way,” a person described as “familiar with the financier’s thinking” tells Hamilton. “He does not want to see Yahoo pushed into some joint venture with Microsoft and is not going to be used to push Yahoo into it.”
But could Icahn’s eagerness to have a deal now be scuttling Microsoft’s long-term deal plans? UBS analysts are floating the idea that a more limited partnership deal between Microsoft Yahoo could be a a stepping stone to an acquisition. The idea is that since Yahoo announced its refusal to go all the way with Microsoft when it first proposed the deal, perhaps it might relent after a bit of a courtship.
Microsoft move unlikely to win Icahn favor: source [Reuters]
The epic proxy fight for Yahoo may soon be wrapping up. This morning the New York Post reports that Yahoo executives are scrambling to do a deal, although perhaps not the one that Carl Icahn and his friends are calling for. Apparently Yahoo is scrambling to ink something with Google to improve search.
But why has Carl Icahn, who owns 59 million Yahoo shares or 4% of the company, set off the deal panic at Yahoo? Well, he’s got some powerful allies. John Paulson, the legendary head of Paulson & Co (who reportedly made $3 billion by shorting subprime mortgages) made owns an additional 5% of the company. He’s reportedly on board with Icahn. And Icahn is set to buy another 4%, upping the dissident shareholder percentage to 12%. But that not the end of it, according to Henry Blodget.
No question how those shares will vote in a proxy fight. Then there’s the 16% owned by Capital Research, whose Gordon Crawford was “extremely angry” with Jerry Yang for blowing the original Microsoft (MSFT) deal. And the 7% or so owned by Legg Mason’s Bill Miller, who as much as said he’d be happy with $34 a share.
Add all of them together and you’re at about 30%-35% of Yahoo’s stock. Bill Miller won’t vote to sack Yahoo’s board unless he knows Microsoft will play ball, but let’s assume Carl can at least create the impression that Microsoft’s on board. Then Icahn, Paulson, & Co. only need to make it clear that they can scrape together another 15%-20% of the votes…and Jerry Yang and Roy Bostock will be on the next Seattle plane.