If Carl Icahn won his proxy battle against Yahoo, the billionaire investor would plan to oust chief executive Jerry Yang, The Wall Street Journal has reported.
Icahn is trying to remove the entire Yahoo board of directors because it did not agree to Microsoft Corp.'s $47.5 billion (£22.5 billion) takeover bid. Microsoft withdrew its offer last month.
But it appears now that Icahn is making it personal and targeting Yang by name. According to the Journal, Icahn is convinced that Microsoft executives don't trust Yang and won't make a new offer for the company unless Yang and the rest of the board are removed.
What raised Icahn's ire is information contained in a shareholders' lawsuit that was brought against Yahoo after Microsoft withdrew its offer, according to the Journal. Details of the lawsuit, some of which were previously under seal, have been ordered by a judge to be released.
According to the plaintiffs, Yang and other executives actively tried to derail Microsoft's efforts to negotiate an acquisition agreement that would benefit both companies. The complaint places much of the blame on Yang, describing him as someone with a "well-known" antipathy toward Microsoft who acted out of a personal interest to keep Yahoo independent.
"It's no longer a mystery to me why Microsoft's offer isn't around," the Journal quoted Icahn as saying. "How can Yahoo keep saying they're willing to negotiate and sell the company on the one hand, while at the same time they're completely sabotaging the process without telling anyone?"
The Journal said Yahoo's board was scheduled to meet Tuesday.
"Yahoo's board of directors, including Jerry Yang, has been crystal clear that it would consider any proposal by Microsoft that was in the best interests of its shareholders," a Yahoo spokeswoman said. "To that end, Yahoo has engaged in extensive discussions with Microsoft over the last several months, culminating in Microsoft's decision not to pursue an acquisition of Yahoo. Mr. Icahn's assertions ignore this clear factual record."