Here comes Yahoo board meeting: Is Icahn ready to reprise role as dissenter-in-chief?*
UPDATED 2:05 P.M.: Another group added its voice to a growing chorus of opposition. The World Federation of Advertisers, which says it represents 55 national advertiser associations around the globe, said today that it has asked European regulators to block the partnership.
Let the dissent begin.
Tomorrow Yahoo's revamped board of directors will meet for the first time with billionaire activist Carl Icahn taking a seat -- and apparently taking a stand on his previous argument that Yahoo needs to craft a deal with Microsoft. Oh, to be a fly on that boardroom wall.
Icahn and two of his allies were elected after Yahoo's annual meeting last month in a truce brokered to end an acrimonious proxy fight for control of the Internet company.
Icahn replaced Activision Blizzard honcho Bobby Kotick on the board. Former Viacom CEO Frank Biondi Jr. and former Nextel CEO John Chapple were also appointed to the expanded 11-member board.
Icahn will get the opportunity to push for a Microsoft deal from Yahoo's board. He told CNBC on Friday: "Yahoo is a really great company, but I think they have to do something with Microsoft or Google is going to kill them."
That's not the prevailing view among Yahoo managers, who have been forcefully making the case that a controversial search advertising partnership with Google would be its salvation. It's a key part of the argument advanced by Chief Executive Jerry Yang and others that Yahoo is a viable, independent company. Yahoo is also said to continue serious talks with Time Warner's AOL unit.
The proposed Google partnership faces intense scrutiny from U.S. and European regulators and attorneys general, including in California, as well as opposition from some U.S. advertisers and the World Assn. of Newspapers. Yet Yahoo and Google say they are committed to the deal, which they expect to launch next month.
In a letter on Friday to Assn. of National Advertisers President and CEO Robert Liodice regarding his organization's opposition to the search advertising pact, Yahoo's head of U.S. operations, Hilary Schneider, argued the pact would give advertisers more and better options while strengthening Yahoo's ability to compete in all aspects of online advertising, including search. She also rejected the contention that the pact would raise prices for advertisers.
Yang will also make his case to advertising executives this week with an address in New York.
-- Jessica Guynn
Photo: Carl Icahn. Credit: Mark Lennihan / Associated Press