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Takeover-wary Yahoo sets stock rights plan

Potential acquirers still find co. too expensive

NEW YORK — Yahoo, having seen its stock crash over the past year, adopted a stockholder rights plan last week aimed at fending off hostile takeovers.

The plan is designed “to deter coercive takeover tactics, including the accumulation of shares in the open market or through private transactions, and to prevent an acquirer from gaining control of Yahoo without offering a fair and adequate price and terms to all of Yahoo’s stockholders,” the company said.

Yahoo’s shares, now trading at about $20, have plunged from a 52-week high of more than $200, sparking rumors that the giant portal would be a tasty takeover target for companies from Walt Disney to Viacom to Microsoft.

A matter of time

Some potential acquirers, such as Disney, have said they still find Yahoo — which depends almost solely on advertising in a weak ad environment — too expensive, even after the sharp dip. Most Wall Streeters, however, think it’s just a matter of time before someone snaps it up.

Yahoo emphasized that the rights plan wasn’t a response to any particular overture on the part of a potential buyer.

Company said it will distribute rights to shareholders as of March 20. Each right will entitle a stockholder to buy preferred stock that carries increased voting rights. The rights generally will be exercisable only if a person or group acquires beneficial ownership of 15% or more of Yahoo common stock or launches a tender or exchange offer for Yahoo shares.

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