Two Detroit pension funds have sued Yahoo Inc. and its board of directors, saying they breached their duties to shareholders in trying to thwart a takeover by Microsoft Corp.
According to the lawsuit, Yahoo’s board is pursuing “value-destructive” third-party deals in an effort to fight off Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, which on Feb. 1 announced a takeover bid of $31 per share in cash and stock, a 62 percent premium over Yahoo’s previous day’s closing price.
Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo, whose shares closed unchanged at $28.42 on Friday, rejected Microsoft’s $44.6 billion takeover bid as inadequate, but indicated that it might be willing to negotiate if the price was right. Yahoo is believed to want at least $40 per share, or about $56 billion.
The company also adopted new severance packages that would protect employees in the event of a Microsoft takeover, a move the lawsuit labels as a blatant effort to drive up the cost of an acquisition.
“Yahoo’s directors cannot ‘just say no’ indefinitely to legitimate acquisition offers,” the lawsuit reads. “Likewise, Yahoo’s directors cannot pursue transactions that do not require shareholder approval for the primary purpose of making Yahoo unattractive to Microsoft.”
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