Carl Icahn’s recent Yahoo stock dump didn’t cause too much alarm—although he took a $125M loss, he still retains 4.5% of the company (and his board seats). But now Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz looks like she’s dumping stocks—and investors are none too happy.
As The Guardian reports, when Carol Bartz took the helm, she was given a $1M salary and $5M in stock options, as well as a promise of a $4M bonus if things went well. In two sales during these last nine months, Bartz has already unloaded $2M in Yahoo stock options.
Not exactly a sign of confidence. Yahoo’s general counsel, Mark Callahan, has also sold of a significant portion of his shares—$1.35M in five sales this year, twice as much as last year. Because bad things come in threes, I guess.
But since Icahn, who’s usually the one criticizing Yahoo leadership, has already done the same thing (times 62.5), the role of lead naysayer appears to be going to Eric Jackson of Ironfire Capital, another large and vocal Yahoo stockholder:
While executives are entitled to sell the options that they had been given, he said that Bartz was sending the wrong message by exercising so many of her stock options so soon after joining the company.
“Two million already cashed out for Bartz is too much, too soon,” he said in an email, adding that it “doesn’t really fit with her ‘I didn’t need this job as I was retired’ image she portrays”.
Yahoo says the “share sales were necessary for tax purposes. ‘We are told that they were re-acquired to satisfy tax withholdings,’ a spokeswoman said.” Even if that’s true, the appearances aren’t good.
What do you think? Is Bartz shuffling her profile for tax purposes, or does it just look like she’s cutting and running?