Yahoo’s “eye-popping” severance plans

Here’s another dispatch from Mercury News reporter Elise Ackerman, who has been covering the Yahoo saga for us. She’s been examining some materials related to the shareholder litigation brought about regarding Microsoft’s proposed takeover:

Now that the Yahoo shareholder meeting is over and Carl Icahn has been appointed to Yahoo’s board of directors he will be working to rescind severance plans adopted by the board’s compensation committee on February 12 , 2008.

According to a declaration filed in Delaware Court by John Fox, a veteran Silicon Valley employment attorney, the plans were highly unusual. “The number of months of benefits to be paid is “”eye-popping” by Silicon Valley standards,” Fox asserted in a 26-page declaration. “I have never seen severance allowances as generous as those available in the Yahoo plan.”

Fox said his opinion was based on 30 years of practice, including more than a decade at the venerable Silicon Valley firm of Fenwick & West, in which he reviewed and drafted hundreds of severance, change of control and key employee retention bonus plans.

Shareholders withheld votes from Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang and members of the compensation in record numbers at the annual meeting held August 1.

For Yahoo CEO, Jerry Yang, 34 percent of votes were withheld. For chairman Roy Bostock, 40 percent of votes were withheld. For Arthur Kern, a member of the compensation committee, 38 percent of votes were withheld.


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  • nono

    As one of the people laid off on Feb. 12, I’m very curious to know what was eye-popping about the plan. Most people I knew got 3 or 4 months of severance, after 3 or 4 years at the company. That hardly sounds eye-popping. Also, the “declaration” link is broken.