Note to Jerry Yang: sell Yahoo!

Yahoo has revealed a 19% fall in quarterly profits. Now will Jerry Yang finally accept Microsoft's money?

by
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Yahoo’s profits fell from $161m to $131m. The online search veteran has put the drop down to the hit ad spend has taken due to the worsening US economy, particularly in finance and packaged consumer goods.

Which makes it all the more surprising that chief exec Jerry Yang continues to resist the advances of suitor Microsoft, which has had its eyes on Yahoo for much of the year. In unofficial trading after the close of the Nasdaq stockmarket, Yahoo's shares fell by 1.25% to $21.40. Microsoft was offering $33 in May’s proposed buyout. Chances like this don’t come along every day.

Yang seems determined to ignore what many others see all too plainly: that Microsoft is prepared to pay huge sums – $47bn in May – for a firm that is increasingly playing second fiddle to Google in the online search market. In the three months to June Yahoo spent $22m (£11m) on advisers and lawyers to help it fend off Microsoft's advances. Surely it’s time to see sense and do the deal?

Of course, it’s not just Microsoft and the might of Google that Yahoo is battling. The figures came out just a day after the company struck a peace deal with billionaire shareholder Carl Icahn, who was waging a campaign to unseat the entire board. Icahn, who favours a sale to Microsoft, has agreed to stop agitating, in return for a seat on the board. 

Yang is at pains to point out he wants to remain chief executive, saying he’s looking forward to keeping people updated on progress. Yahoo’s stakeholders may well be hoping that such progress involves relieving Microsoft of a few billion dollars.

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