Yahoo board member leaves, annual meeting postponed, Ballmer cool on Yahoo

Yahoo had 10 board members. Longtime Yahoo board member and former Cisco CTO Ed Kozel resigned, and then there

were nine. Kozel had been on the Yahoo board since 2000, reports a story on Forbes.com. A regulatory filing about Kozel's resignation noted that his departure was originally scheduled for February, but he agreed to stay on through the first round of negotiations with Microsoft. Valleywag reports that Kozel was thought to be one of the folks who fought to keep Yahoo independent. The filing noted that Kozel is relocating his family to Europe. (He is a new board member of Telepo, a Swedish enterprise software company.) The nine remaining, embattled board members must be green with envy. Push away a nearly $50 billion acquisition offer, then leave the continent before facing the ire of shareholders. Suhweet.

In the meantime, Yahoo postponed its annual shareholder meeting to some unspecified date in July. It was originally scheduled for Thursday and was to be the setting where billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn would have staged his hostile takeover. Icahn would have asked shareholders to engage in a proxy contest to vote on a replacement set of board members (which naturally included himself). A news report by the AP characterizes Yahoo's move as "dragging out the drama" -- though why the company would want to do that after months of over-the-top drama is anyone's guess. Yahoo's current leadership doesn't have a lot of face-saving options from here. If they could have made an alternative (and higher priced) offer from Google or others materialize, it would have shown up by now.

Meanwhile, today in Russia, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer reiterated that Microsoft had cooled on the idea of trying to buy Yahoo, reports the AP. He said he knows his company can spend the nearly $50 billion it would have paid for Yahoo in many other ways to increase its online advertising share. Interestingly, he pointed out under-served areas of the market as the place to find that share -- such as healthcare. This was likely an arrow shot at Google. (So, what else is new?) Google announced this week that it had launched a medical-records online storage service that competes with the one Microsoft launched in October of last year.

Ballmer did, however, point out that Microsoft's interest in Yahoo had always hinged on the price Microsoft would have to pay for Yahoo. Would be easy to speculate that Microsoft would come back to the table if Yahoo's price was seriously reduced. But Ballmer isn't saying that. Instead he is underscoring that other kinds of deals with Yahoo are being explored. Early this week, the two companies said they were in new talks on a more limited deal but neither side disclosed the terms. Speculation by the analyst community and by news reports quoting unnamed sources said Microsoft had proposed buying Yahoo's search business and taking a stake in Yahoo after Yahoo sheds its substantial Asian assets.

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