Carl Icahn owns 59 million Yahoo shares (YHOO), or 4% of the company. John Paulson, head of merger-arb shop Paulson & Co., who made a reported $3 billion personally shorting sub-prime last year, owns 50 million shares, Reuters says. So that’s about 8% of Yahoo between them. Icahn is cleared to buy another 4%, which would make 12%.
No question how those shares will vote in a proxy fight. Then there’s the 16% owned by Capital Research, whose Gordon Crawford was “extremely angry” with Jerry Yang for blowing the original Microsoft (MSFT) deal. And the 7% or so owned by Legg Mason’s Bill Miller, who as much as said he’d be happy with $34 a share.
Add all of them together and you’re at about 30%-35% of Yahoo’s stock. Bill Miller won’t vote to sack Yahoo’s board unless he knows Microsoft will play ball, but let’s assume Carl can at least create the impression that Microsoft’s on board. Then Icahn, Paulson, & Co. only need to make it clear that they can scrape together another 15%-20% of the votes…and Jerry Yang and Roy Bostock will be on the next Seattle plane.