February 10, 2012 5:23 pm

Yahoo moves to reassure investors

Yahoo this week took a broom to its boardroom in the latest attempt to rebuild its tattered relationship with shareholders.

Chairman Roy Bostock is among four directors who will be swept out at the annual shareholder meeting this year, the US internet company announced. But without more concrete signs that it is making headway with a deal to boost its share price, Yahoo will still have unhappy investors to deal with in the coming weeks.

Following the resignation of co-founder Jerry Yang last month, the board shake-up is intended to sever connections with an earlier group of directors who have been blamed for failing to secure a highly attractive takeover offer from Microsoft and for erring in hiring Carol Bartz as chief executive. Ms Bartz was sacked last September, precipitating the latest crisis at the company.

The partial replacement of a board that has been criticised for paying too little attention to shareholder value was welcomed on Wall Street, which has grown impatient for more drastic strategic change.

However, in a letter announcing the move, Mr Bostock also dashed hopes that that change would now come quickly: negotiations about selling Yahoo’s minority stakes in Yahoo Japan and Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba – which together represent the lion’s share of its stock market value – have been slowed by the complexity of the deals, he said.

For Yahoo’s beleaguered directors, the clock is now ticking. They are still under threat from an unhappy shareholder who has warned he may seek to have his own appointees elected to the board this year. Any such proposal must be made formally by the end of March. Without at least the outline of a deal by then, the new board could still feel the backlash from investor ire.

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