Not that this is a surprise, since analysts have been saying since this weekend that the “no” is not the final no. Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) CEO Jerry Yang now says that it was Microsoft who left the negotiating table, and that his team was still open to discussing a deal. In an interview to Reuters, he said: “If they have anything new to say, we would be open … I am more than willing to listen.”
Yang said he had spoken to many Yahoo shareholders since Saturday, and their reaction been all over the map. Yang said he is taking Ballmer’s withdrawal letter at “face value” and doesn’t know if this is a negotiating tactic. “My view is we are moving on and they said they’re moving on,” he added.
Meanwhile, the shareholder lawsuits have started, as expected: the first one out of the gate are two public pension funds represented by law firms Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP and Bouchard Margules & Friedlander, P.A. The two pension funds are Police & Fire Retirement System of the City of Detroit and the General Retirement System of the City of Detroit. Details here.
Then, the big institutional shareholders of Yahoo seem to be angry, this WSJ story says: “I’m extremely disappointed in Jerry Yang,” said Gordon Crawford, a portfolio manager at Capital Research Global Investors, which owns over 6 percent of Yahoo’s shares. “I think he overplayed a weak hand.”
Then Yang, also in an interview to WSJ, did the dialback: “We as a company and I personally have always been open to a deal with Microsoft and I hope that the last few days it was clear that we have shown we’re willing to do a deal with Microsoft but that we couldn’t get to an agreement on price.”
Update: The Yang tour continues: NYT reports on Yang’s version of a Ballmer rejection: “They chose to walk away after we put a price on the table, and they didn’t want to negotiate. … From my perspective, we were open all along to selling to Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT). We just feel Yahoo, either stand-alone or with Microsoft, is worth more than what they put on the table.” Of course, it was Microsoft that raised its bid and Yahoo that dug in on the much higher price. And more from Crawford, challenging the Yahoo account of shareholder react: “I would love to know who these shareholders are. … it