Commentary

Yang Gets Support From Legg Mason

Yahoo's Jerry Yang is gaining momentum in his fight to keep the company out of Microsoft's hands. In the latest development, Bill Miller, portfolio manager at shareholder Legg Mason, which controls 4.4% of Yahoo's stock, announced this morning he will back the current board.

"We believe the current board acted with care and diligence when evaluating Microsoft's offers. We believe the board is independent and focused on value creation for long-term shareholders," Miller said in a statement.

Miller also dismissed dissident shareholder Carl Icahn's claim that Yahoo needs to replace the current board because Microsoft won't negotiate with Yang and company: "While boards are there to protect shareholder interests, shareholders own the company. If Microsoft wants to acquire Yahoo!, it can make the terms and conditions of its offer public."

The move is a clear blow to Icahn, who's attempting to install a new board that would have a mandate to sell all or part of the company to Microsoft. Still, a lot can still happen before Yahoo's Aug. 1 shareholder meeting, especially because the largest single shareholder, Gordon Crawford of Capital Research, hasn't yet said who he'll back.

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Separately from the Legg Mason news, Yahoo today launched an anti-Icahn ad campaign on its home page. Users who click through an ad reading, "We've got a couple of exclamation points to make," land on a page with the Icahn quote "It's hard to understand these technology companies" blazoned across the top.

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