Starboard’s busy day: It also grabs seats on Marvell’s board

In case you still have Carl Icahn listed as Silicon Valley’s agitator in chief, you might want to move Starboard Value up on the list. Starboard on Wednesday grabbed seats on the boards of not one but two tech companies in the area: Yahoo and Marvell Technology.

At Starboard’s insistence, Marvell, the chip company whose U.S. headquarters is in Santa Clara — which earlier this month ousted its CEO and president after accounting irregularities — will gain five new independent directors, including one to be named later. Among them is Richard Hill, Tessera Technologies chairman, who also was named to Yahoo’s board today.

Starboard in February announced that it had obtained about a 6.5 percent stake in Marvell, taking advantage of a plunge in Marvell shares that began in September 2015 after the company announced an internal investigation into its accounting. Its stock fell further after later disclosing a government probe.

“We are pleased to have reached a constructive agreement with Marvell,” Peter Feld, the managing member of Starboard who will chair the board, said in a statement today. “Marvell is a world class technology company, and we believe there is a significant opportunity to regain and solidify Marvell’s position as a leader in storage, networking, connectivity, and multimedia solutions.” The New York-based hedge fund reportedly wants Marvell to cut costs and leave the mobile-wireless business.

As part of the deal, Starboard has agreed to vote for Marvell’s board candidates at the next annual shareholder meeting. Last year, the meeting was held in June.

Sehat Sutardja and Weili Dai, the couple who co-founded Marvell in 1995 and who had served as CEO and president, respectively, before their ouster, remain on the board. Sutardja and his brother, Pantas Sutardja, who also co-founded the company, are among Marvell’s biggest shareholders, according to Bloomberg.

Marvell shares are up more than 2 percent to $10.18.

Back to Starboard and CEO Jeff Smith as the valley’s new Icahn — the corporate agitator who made noise at eBay, Apple, Yahoo, Netflix: Starboard also is seeking to replace the board of Depomed, a Newark-based drug maker. Starboard reportedly has a 9.9 percent stake in the company, which it’s pushing to sell itself. Last year, Depomed rejected a bid by Horizon Pharma.

Starboard’s Smith, by the way, might be best known so far as the man who seized control of Darden Restaurants. But Silicon Valley knows him for so much more.

 

Photo: Sehat Sutardja, former CEO of Marvell Technology Group, in 2009. (Silicon Valley Leadership Group/BANG archives)

 

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