Starboard’s Jeffrey Smith Speaks On Yahoo! Inc. Battle

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Yahoo is set to release its next earnings report tonight after closing bell, and ahead of that report, activist investor Jeffrey Smith of Starboard Value reminded investors that he’s seeking a clean sweep of the company’s board of directors. He made the remarks at the 13D Monitor’s Active-Passive Summit.

Clean sweep might not work at Yahoo

According to Reuters, Smith said at the summit that the approach of replacing all of a company’s directors is often the best way to turn around a struggling company, but he also warned that it’s not always possible to take this path. The media outlet recalled Starboard’s success two years ago when it won all 12 seats on Darden Restaurants’ board less than two years ago. Smith only just left the restaurant operator’s board after spending 18 months on turnaround efforts.

Smith said that replacing all of a company’s board enables activists to gain the trust of management while also setting the stage for a real partnership to begin. However, he added that companies have become more prepared than ever when it comes to dealing with activists. Management’s often look for ways to avoid expensive proxy battles and the disruption and embarrassment that usually come with them.

Starboard targets Yahoo

The Starboard chief’s comments come the same week one of their current targets is scheduled to release its next earnings report. Smith said he’s been working behind the scenes at Yahoo for months, but as nothing has worked, he’s now seeking to replace all nine of the company’s directors, which include CEO Marissa Mayer. So far Yahoo hasn’t commented much on the battle other than to say that it would review Starboard’s nominees.

According to Reuters, Starboard is also looking to place six of its nominees on Depomed’s board of directors after blasting the company for rejecting a buyout offer. Smith said simply that they’re in the process of that and added that they may soon pick up other targets, although he didn’t hint which companies they might target other than to say they’re looking at it on a “case-by-case basis.”

Yahoo stock declined 0.45% to $36.36 per share in afternoon trades today.

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