Posted August 1, 2008 10:38 am by with 9 comments

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UPDATE: The votes are in and there are no surprises from the annual meeting.

On the surface, it appears newly appointed Yahoo board member Carl Icahn, is staying away from the company’s annual shareholder meeting for the good of the company.

On his blog, Icahn states:

I will not be attending. The proxy fight is over and it will not do shareholders or Yahoo! any good to have the annual meeting turn into a media event for no purpose.

It’s those words that have the rest of the media praising Icahn for knowing the difference between “activist shareholder” and troublemaker. But this Pilgrim’s not convinced Icahn’s motives are all selfless.

The AP is reporting that the Yahoo shareholder meeting will likely turn ugly, as unhappy shareholders voice their concern over not selling to Microsoft.

“The Microsoft negotiations were just the latest example of the negligence by this board,” said Eric Jackson, a Yahoo shareholder who plans to confront management during Friday’s meeting. “There is still a lot of anger and frustration among shareholders right now.”

While I’d like to think that Icahn’s staying away for the good of Yahoo, I suspect that two other motives at least play a supporting role in his decision.

  1. If the Yahoo board is going to be attacked, Icahn doesn’t want to have his name associated with it.
  2. If shareholders push for Jerry Yang to step down, it would be hard for Carl Icahn to stand there and support the Yahoo CEO. While Icahn’s trying to be nice to Yang, he states “we still disagree on many points.”

I think the Yahoo shareholder meeting could get ugly. Carl Icahn is a smart guy. He knows that the last place he needs to be is in attendance. Better to observe from afar, and let Yahoo’s angry shareholders do his dirty work.

What do you think? Am I on point, or missing the mark?