One of Yahoo's biggest shareholders has asked for an examination of whether its votes were properly counted at the internet company's contentious annual meeting at the end of last week, it emerged on Monday.
The unusual request, made by an arm of Los Angeles-based Capital Group, leaves an embarrassing question mark over the true level of shareholder support for Jerry Yang, Yahoo's embattled chief executive.
The internet company officially reported on Friday that Mr Yang had received the backing of 85 per cent of the votes cast at the annual meeting, a level of support that was seen as a positive outcome for the Yahoo executive given the anger expressed by some big shareholders about his failure to secure an acquisition by Microsoft earlier in the year.
According to one person close to the situation, even if the question raised by Capital Group led to a different outcome, it would still only lead to a relatively small reduction in Mr Yang's support of a few percentage points. However, any public re-opening of the vote prompted by a large shareholder could prove embarrassing.
In a statement late on Monday, Yahoo dismissed the suggestion that its own vote-counting had been at fault, and hinted that any error had been made in the way the votes were transmitted from Capital Group to the company.
"The independent inspector of elections certified the results of the election and Yahoo! accurately announced those results," the company said.
"Yahoo did not participate in the execution of the votes and was not a party to any errors which may have been made either by a voting institution or a proxy processing intermediary acting on behalf of banks, brokers and institutions."
Capital Group is understood to have asked Broadridge Financial Solutions, an intermediary that acted on its behalf in the voting, to look into the handling of the votes.
Though Capital Group entities own around 16 per cent of Yahoo's shares, the stock is held in different units that each decide independently how their shares should be voted.
Capital Group Global Investors - run by Gordon Crawford, who spoke out publicly against Mr Yang after Microsoft abandoned its bid - owns some 6 per cent of the stock, while Capital World Investors owns another 10 per cent.
In all, Mr Yang failed to win the backing of 15 per cent of the votes cast at the annual meeting, or 153m shares. Between them, the two Capital Group entities own around 225m shares.
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