UPDATE, 12:31 PM: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson told the board over the weekend that he has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. The WSJ says the disclosure might have impacted the company’s decision to accept Thompson’s resignation. The report adds that Thompson began telling colleagues as early as Friday that he was stepping down. Meanwhile, CNNMoney is reporting that Thompson could owe up to $7 million in upfront bonus money he received when he was hired in January.
PREVIOUS, SUNDAY PM: It’s official: Thompson’s four-month reign is over, following the disclosure that he misrepresented his bachelors’ degree. He “has left the Company,” Yahoo says — and the board has a deal with Third Point CEO Daniel Loeb, who has abandoned his proxy fight. Ross Levinsohn replaces Thompson as interim chief executive “effective immediately.” Roy Bostock has stepped down as Non-Executive Chairman, replaced by Fred Amoroso. In addition, hedge fund manager Loeb and two allies — media consultant Michael Wolf and restructuring expert Harry Wilson — will join the board on Wednesday. Former NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Zucker won’t be with them. With only three board seats going to Loeb’s group, Zucker says he agreed to step aside “to quickly facilitate a settlement.”
Here’s the announcement:
SUNNYVALE, Calif., May 13, 2012 — Yahoo! Inc. YHOO -1.62% today announced that the Board of Directors has named Fred Amoroso as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Ross Levinsohn as interim Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. The Company also announced that its Board has reached an agreement with Third Point LLC (“Third Point”) to settle its pending proxy contest related to the Company’s 2012 annual meeting of shareholders.
Mr. Amoroso replaces Roy Bostock, who has stepped down from his role as Non-Executive Chairman in order to accelerate the leadership transition for the new Board. Mr. Levinsohn replaces Scott Thompson, former Chief Executive Officer, who has left the Company.
Under the Board’s settlement agreement with Third Point, three Third Point nominees — Daniel S. Loeb, Harry J. Wilson, and Michael J. Wolf — will join the Yahoo! Board, effective May 16, 2012. Mr. Bostock, along with Patti Hart, VJ Joshi, Arthur Kern and Gary Wilson, all of whom previously disclosed their intentions not to stand for re-election, as well as Mr. Thompson, have decided to step down from the Board immediately.
As a part of the settlement agreement, Third Point, which owns an aggregate of 70,545,400 shares, or 5.8% of Yahoo! common stock, has agreed to withdraw its previous Board nominations for consideration at the annual meeting and vote its shares in support of Yahoo!’s nominees. Yahoo!’s slate of director nominees for election or re-election at the 2012 annual meeting of stockholders will now include Fred Amoroso, John Hayes, Peter Liguori, Thomas McInerney, Maynard Webb, Sue James, David Kenny, Brad Smith, Daniel S. Loeb, Harry J. Wilson and Michael J. Wolf.
As interim CEO, Mr. Levinsohn will manage the Company’s day-to-day operations with assistance from Yahoo!’s existing senior leadership team.
“The Board is pleased to announce these changes and the settlement with Third Point, and is confident that they will serve the best interests of our shareholders and further accelerate the substantial advances the Company has made operationally and organizationally since last August. The Board believes in the strength of the Company’s business and assets, and in the opportunities before us, and I am honored to work closely with my fellow directors and Ross to continue to drive Yahoo! forward,” said Fred Amoroso, Chairman of the Yahoo! Board of Directors.
Mr. Amoroso continued, “On behalf of the entire Board, I would also like to thank Patti, VJ, Arthur, Gary and, in particular, Roy, for their dedicated long-term service and contributions to the Board and Yahoo!.”
Third Point Chief Executive Officer Daniel S. Loeb stated: “Harry, Michael and I are delighted to join the Yahoo! Board and work collaboratively with our fellow directors to foster a culture of leadership dedicated to innovation, excellence in corporate governance, and responsiveness to users, advertisers and partners. We are confident this Board will benefit from shareholder representation, and we are committed to working with new leadership to unlock Yahoo!’s significant potential and value.”
Third Point Director Nominee Jeff Zucker stated: “I have been supportive of Third Point’s efforts since Daniel asked me to join the slate. When I became aware of Yahoo!’s offer of three board seats to Third Point, I approached Daniel and let him know that I would be happy to step aside to quickly facilitate a settlement. I believe that it is in Yahoo!’s best interests to avoid a prolonged proxy fight and have new board members immediately to help move the company forward. While there is clearly much work to be done, this is the right combination of talented executives to do just that.”