Yahoo board mulls options as pressure increases on Thompson

Yahoo investor Daniel Loeb is stepping up his campaign to get the company’s CEO, Scott Thompson, fired.

Thompson, meanwhile, has reportedly apologized to employees for the disruption caused by the row over his academic qualifications.

Loeb, CEO of hedge fund Third Point, accused Thompson last week of lying on his resume. While this lists a degree in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College, it seems that Thompson actually graduated in accounting alone.

Loeb is now demanding to see a number of Yahoo documents, citing the Delaware General Corporation Law, which lets shareholders scrutinize a company’s books if there’s proper cause.

“Yahoo! has not explained how the Nominating Committee could recommend Mr. Thompson to the Board without doing a basic check which would have revealed that Mr Thompson did not possess the ‘computer science’ degree that he was representing to shareholders he possessed,” Loeb yesterday wrote to the company.

“This is extremely disturbing given the Nominating Committee’s belief that ‘the minimum qualifications for service as a director of the Company are that a nominee possesses… an impeccable reputation of integrity and competence in his or her personal and professional activities’.”

Meanwhile, says Reuters, Thompson has sent a memo to staff asking them to stay focused on their work.

The board, he says, is “reviewing the matter and, upon completion of its review, will make an appropriate disclosure to shareholders”.

Yahoo can ill-afford to lose another CEO so ignomoniously, only five months into the job and eight months after his predecessor, Carol Bartz, was fired. Thompson was hailed by the company as the man to lead the troubled company out of its present slump.

The timing’s made worse by the fact that Yahoo is believed to be on the point of selling 15 to 25 percent of Alibaba Group’s shares back to Alibaba, after months of talks.