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Yahoo Interim CEO Says He’s ‘Working Hard’ on Strategy

July 12 (Bloomberg) -- Yahoo! Inc. interim Chief Executive Officer Ross Levinsohn, facing pointed questions from investors, said he’s focused on finding a clear strategy for the company after changes in the board and management over the past year.

Levinsohn, who became interim CEO in May, already has made his presence felt during his short stint, bringing in new executives and helping resolve a legal dispute with Facebook Inc.

“We are working hard to clearly define a strategy for this company,” Levinsohn said today at a meeting of shareholders in Santa Clara, California. “Once we set that strategy, we will size the organization and spending and goals against that. And we’re working as fast and hard as we can.”

He also said Yahoo is communicating with Yahoo Japan Corp., its Tokyo-based joint venture with Softbank Corp., to explore all possible alternatives for the business. Yahoo in the past has discussed a sale of its 35 percent stake in the company, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

Yahoo’s list of possible CEO candidates narrowed last week after Jason Kilar, chief executive of Hulu LLC, said he didn’t want the job. That put the emphasis on Levinsohn, who also is in contention for the position, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Executive Turnover

Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo, which has had five executives at the helm since 2009, is seeking a CEO who can boost the company’s prospects for revenue growth. Scott Thompson exited in May after failing to correct an error in his academic credentials. He followed Tim Morse, who became interim CEO last year after the company fired its previous CEO, Carol Bartz, amid customer and market-share losses to rivals including Google Inc. and Facebook.

During the annual shareholders meeting, investors pressed Levinsohn on how the company will manage spending, its plans for providing additional content on the website and what it’s doing to attract users who have gravitated to rivals. Levinsohn, who answered questions for more than half of the meeting, said the company has opportunities for growth, given its massive scale, technology and focus on improving services.

“The culture of execution is one that we are rapidly working on in this company,” Levinsohn said. “My leadership team that’s currently in place is focused on that every day.”

He pointed to media partnerships that can drive growth in users and ad dollars. That includes an agreement with Walt Disney Co.’s ABC News and a deal with online music service Spotify Ltd. Yahoo is scheduled to report second-quarter financial results on July 17.

Yahoo slipped less than 1 percent to $15.69 at the New York close. The shares have fallen 2.7 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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