The Morning Brief: Starboard Target Yahoo Announces Shareholder-Friendly Move

Yahoo’s board of directors has adopted a proxy access policy, a way for shareholders to nominate directors under certain circumstances, but it may be a case of too little too late, since the policy does not go into effect until the company’s 2017 annual meeting. After all, Jeffrey Smith’s Starboard Value is planning a proxy fight for this year’s meeting after announcing a slate of nine nominees it is proposing for the company’s board. No date has been set for this year’s meeting.

Under the new bylaws beginning next year, a shareholder or group up to 20 shareholders that owns at least 3 percent of the stock for at least three years will be able to nominate no more than two directors, or 20 percent of the total number of directors on the board. Meanwhile, Yahoo is trying to sell part or all of the company, with a deadline of April 11 for submitting preliminary bids.


The Horseman Global Fund, managed by London-based Horseman Capital Management, suffered a big setback in March. The hedge fund, which has been beating most hedge funds for several years while running with a net short portfolio, fell more than 10 percent for the month through March 30. As a result, it is down about 1.60 percent for the year, with one day left in the quarter.


In what is becoming a daily soap opera for Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, the drug company announced that it asked its principal Canadian regulator, the Autorité des marchés financiers, for a management cease trade order for its chief executive officer and chief financial officer — meaning the CEO and CFO cannot trade their own Valeant stock — pending filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of its audited annual 2015 financial statements, the management’s discussion and analysis, certification by its CEO and CFO and its 2015 10-K. The order does not apply to trading by other persons. The company said it is “working diligently” and plans to make the required filings by April 29. Valeant’s stock closed down Thursday by nearly 3 percent, to $26.30.



Separately, Moody’s downgraded the ratings on several different classes of the debt of Valeant. However, it did not take any action on Valeant’s senior secured rating, which remains under review for downgrade. “All of these ratings remain under review for further downgrade, related to Valeant’s late 10-K filing,” Moody’s adds in its announcement.


Pandora Media fell another 5.8 percent on Thursday and is now down 18 percent over the past four trading days. At year-end, Ricky Sandler’s New York-based Eminence Capital was the second-largest shareholder. Chicago-based Citadel was also among the top-ten holders.


MIT has named the building that is home to its department of mathematics in honor of James Simons and his wife Marilyn, noting that their “generosity” enabled it to restore its historic Building 2. Simons, the founder of East Setauket, New York-based Renaissance Technologies, graduated from MIT in 1958 with a BS in mathematics.

“Jim is a wonderful testament to his MIT education — utilizing his mathematical acumen in government and academia, and then to carve out a unique niche in the investment world,” said Michael Sipser, dean of the School of Science and former mathematics department head, in a press release.

Simons also holds a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. The announcement points out that the Simons’ have a long connection to MIT. James Simons is a life member emeritus of the MIT Corporation, while the foundation he created with Marilyn established the Simons Center for the Social Brain to create and translate knowledge into better diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.