Carl Icahn, the activist investor who fought hard for a Microsoft/Yahoo merger, sold over 62 million Yahoo shares last week for a total value of just under $190 million, according to a regulatory filing.
The sale represents just over 17% of his total holdings and is being sold for about $125 million less than he originally paid for the shares when he waged a proxy battle with Yahoo management in 2008.
In a separate SEC filing, Icahn said the shares “were sold in order to provide a more desired balance in their portfolios relating to tech stocks” and that the timing of the sale was influenced by a window for sales by directors and officers that closed on August 31, 2009.
Icahn said in the filing that the sale does not reflect any lack of confidence in Yahoo’s long-term prospects or the company’s CEO Carol Bartz. This does appear to make sense since Yahoo represents over 30% of his current holdings and is one of only a few pure-play tech stocks in his portfolio. So, given the strong performance from the NASDAQ the past couple months (up over 16% since July 7), taking a little money off the table is not that surprising of a move.
Icahn still holds over $900 million in Yahoo stock after the sale.