Yahoo Loses Top Media Executive Amid Mayer-Led Turnaround

Yahoo! Inc.’s Mickie Rosen, the veteran entertainment executive hired to lead the company’s media business in 2011, is departing one year into Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer’s attempt at a turnaround.

Rosen, who was senior vice president of global media, is leaving Sept. 1, and will receive a severance package for termination “without cause,” according to a regulatory filing yesterday from the Sunnyvale, California-based company.

Mayer has emphasized online video, an area overseen by Rosen, as part of her effort to revive growth at the largest U.S. Internet portal. Rosen’s departure follows Yahoo’s failed attempt to buy a majority stake in video site Dailymotion as well as a bid for Hulu LLC, which called off an auction this month. Earlier yesterday, Yahoo director and activist investor Daniel Loeb said he is leaving the board and selling $1.16 billion of his stake back to the company.

Rosen previously worked at News Corp.’s former Fox Interactive Media unit and Walt Disney Co. Yahoo said her severance agreement includes the equivalent of six months of salary, a portion of bonus payments, health-care reimbursements and accelerated vesting of stock options.

“Mickie has made tremendous contributions to Yahoo’s media business over the past two-and-a-half years, and we wish her all the best,” Sara Gorman, a spokeswoman for Yahoo, said in an e-mailed statement, without elaborating on the reason for her departure.

Yahoo shares fell 4.3 percent to $27.86 at the close in New York, the biggest decline since June 24.

Stock Buyback

The drop came after Yahoo announced plans to repurchase 40 million shares at $29.11 apiece from Loeb’s Third Point LLC, a sign that the hedge fund manager may see limited upside to Mayer’s turnaround plan.

Loeb is left with about 20 million shares, or less than a 2 percent stake. His allies on the board, Harry Wilson and Michael Wolf, are also stepping down, leaving Yahoo with seven directors.

Last week Yahoo reported second-quarter sales of $1.07 billion, lower than analysts’ average estimate of $1.08 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Mayer has thus far focused on revamping products and improving worker morale at the expense of wooing advertisers, who continue to shift budgets to Google Inc. and Facebook Inc.

Even with the revenue misfire and yesterday’s decline, Yahoo shares have advanced 40 percent this year, compared with a 19 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

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