The plot thickens. ValueAct Capital Management, the investing firm based in San Francisco, has been in the news ever since it purchased a $2 billion stake in Microsoft earlier this year.
Now it has emerged that the investment firm is very close to getting a seat in the Microsoft board, after both companies recently signed a cooperation agreement.
ValueAct, according to unofficial reports, had been on an activist agenda ever since purchasing a stake in the Redmond based technology giant. The investment firm is said to be responsible for Steve Ballmer’s departure — it reportedly did not agree with the vision the outgoing CEO had been pursuing.
Microsoft released a public statement earlier today that it will be giving Mason Morfit, president of ValueAct Capital, the option of joining the Microsoft board of directors beginning at the first quarterly board meeting after the 2013 annual shareholders meeting.
John Thompson, the lead independent director and chair of Microsoft’s Governance and Nominating Committee said in a statement:
“Mason has extensive experience as a public company director, a wealth of financial knowledge and the perspective of a major shareholder. We have enjoyed getting to know Mason over the past few months and are looking forward to working with him.”
Morfit also chimed in:
“Microsoft is a world-class company with tremendous long-term potential. At this critical inflection point in the company’s evolution, I look forward to actively working together with the board and Microsoft’s management team to continue to create value for all shareholders.”
And even though Ballmer has been quick to deny any and all rumors that point to ValueAct’s involvement in his decision to retire, analysts do, however, claim that the long time CEO was definitely fired by the board. He had this to say on this cooperation agreement:
“Our board and management team are committed to enhancing growth and value for Microsoft shareholders, and we look forward to ValueAct Capital’s input.”
As part of this new cooperation deal, ValueAct cannot launch a hostile proxy contest in order to seek to elect new directors to the board. Bear in mind that there is no word yet on whether Morfit will actually accept Microsoft’s offer. He will become the 10th member of the board, if he does.
Plus, potentially, ValueAct could also have a say in the selection of the next Microsoft CEO.