At least two top-10 Yahoo shareholders are so unhappy with chief executive Marissa Mayer’s turnaround efforts that they are making a direct plea to AOL CEO Tim Armstrong to explore a merger and run the combined company.
Their move follows an activist campaign by hedge fund Starboard Value LP, which is pushing Yahoo to consider a deal with AOL and unlock Yahoo’s valuable stakes in Asian Web companies.
Armstrong has been receptive to these Yahoo shareholders and acknowledged the potential benefits of a deal, the Yahoo investors said.
But he has downplayed the possibility of a transaction, according to the investors and two sources close to AOL. There are no talks between the two companies and Armstrong has indicated he would only consider a friendly deal, the investors said.
AOL and Yahoo declined to comment. The total holdings of the Yahoo shareholders who had made overtures to Armstrong could not be determined.
Two top-10 AOL investors said that they also met with Armstrong in recent weeks to discuss the possibility of a deal with Yahoo. These shareholders were left with the impression that a combined company could yield as much as $1.5 billion in cost savings.