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Yahoo Investor Third Point Plans Proxy Contest on Nominees

Yahoo! Inc. investor Third Point LLC plans to take the first steps toward seeking shareholder votes on its proposed slate of four new directors, saying the Web company has been “dismissive” of its plans.

Third Point, which owns about 5.8 percent of Yahoo’s shares, said it plans to file a preliminary proxy statement “within the week,” according to a letter addressed to Scott Thompson, the Web portal’s new chief executive officer, and signed by Third Point CEO Daniel Loeb.

Loeb has been stepping up pressure on the company to make changes following a sales slump and the loss of its leadership in Internet advertising. Thompson, who joined Yahoo in January, is trying to drive a turnaround after the company fired its previous CEO, Carol Bartz, in September. Yahoo has failed to keep pace with rivals such as Google Inc. and Facebook Inc., which are attracting more ad dollars and user time.

“The board’s stonewalling, apparent insouciance and decision not to engage with us in a serious manner, has left us no choice but to directly approach our fellow owners,” Loeb wrote in the letter, released today in a filing. “It is not too late for you to take decisive leadership action and avoid the costs and distraction of an expensive proxy contest fighting the shareholder slate.”

The hedge fund’s nominees, announced last month, are Harry Wilson, CEO of Maeva Advisors LLC; Michael Wolf, head of Activate Inc.; Jeffrey Zucker, former CEO of NBC Universal; and Loeb himself.

Reviewing Candidates

Yahoo stands by the review process for potential board members, according to an e-mailed statement.

“To achieve the best possible outcome for all Yahoo shareholders, the board’s nominating and corporate governance committee continues to review a wide range of highly qualified candidates,” the company said. “The committee has included Third Point’s candidates in its thorough review process and will make its recommendations to the full board in due course.”

Third Point said today it would be amenable to Gary Wilson staying on Yahoo’s board and becoming chairman. Current Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock announced last month that he, Wilson and two others wouldn’t stand for re-election.

Yahoo, owner of the most popular U.S. Web portal, rose less than 1 percent to $14.63 at the close in New York. Shares of the Sunnyvale, California-based company have fallen 9.3 percent this year.

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