Yahoo! board wins backing at AGM

SAN FRANCISCO - Yahoo! won the backing of its shareholders at its annual general meeting as all nine directors were re-elected to the board and chief executive Jerry Yang received strong support.

Yang received 85% of the vote in his favour as shareholders backed his stance over Microsoft and plans for development of the company.

The strong support for Yang and the board of directors surprised some who had expected more of a protest vote by some investors angry about the failure of the Microsoft deal and the company's sagging performance.

The lack of protest is perhaps not a surprise after billionaire investor Carl Icahn reached a peace deal with Yahoo! and did not attend the AGM. Icahn's deal with Yahoo! saw the board expanded to eleven.

One of Icahn's board candidates, former AOL CEO Jonathan Miller, ran into trouble when AOL parent Time Warner objected saying a non-compete clause remained in place until March 2009.

The only protest, and a small one at that, came over the re-election of three members of Yahoo!'s executive compensation committee - chairman Roy Bostock, Ron Burkle and Arthur Kern. The three, dubbed the "gang of three", received around 80% of votes in favour of re-election with the remaining votes withheld.

The lower vote for the three reflected criticism of Yahoo!'s corporate governance relating to stock-option packages granted to former chairman and chief executive Terry Semel, who resigned as CEO after protests at last year's meeting over Yahoo's flagging performance.

Bostock attempted to smooth over relations with investors and said that the Yahoo! board had been firmly in the driving seat during the failed talks with Microsoft and went as far to say that "there was never a compelling offer put on the table".

His comments were dismissed by Microsoft as "attempting to rewrite history".

Criticism of Yahoo! board did come in other quarters over on the firm's falling stock price in the period following the failure of talks with Microsoft. On Friday Yahoo!'s shares stood at $19.80, close to the $19.18 before the Microsoft bid and a long way from the software giant's $33 per share offer.