Major shareholder backs Yahoo board

Yahoo's board received a major boost Friday in its effort to resist Carl Icahn's rebellion, as Legg Mason Capital Management, one of the company's largest shareholders, announced its support for the current leadership, dpa reported.

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

Icahn is trying to oust the board and chief executive and founder Jerry Yang in an August 1 proxy shareholder vote. He claims they botched negotiations with Microsoft to buy the company for 47.5 billion dollars. Icahn, a billionaire activist investor, has teamed up with Microsoft and has pledged to reach an agreement with the software giant if he wins control of Yahoo.

Legg Mason owns roughly 60.7 million Yahoo shares, or 4.4 per cent of the company's outstanding shares, to make it Yahoo's second- largest shareholder after Capital Research & Management Co, which owns roughly 16 per cent.

Microsoft originally offered 31 dollars a share for Yahoo in a deal made public in February, in a bid to better compete with Google's domination of online advertising. Microsoft subsequently raised its bid to 33 dollars a share before walking away in May. It has since made various bids to buy Yahoo's search business and split up and sell the rest of the business, but has failed to publicly detail the bids.

Miller demanded more transparency from Microsoft.

"If Microsoft wants to acquire Yahoo, it can make the terms and conditions of its offer public, he said in the statement. "If Yahoo shareholders support it, I am confident the board of Yahoo will accept it."

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