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AOL defeats dissident challenge at annual meeting

 

 

By Rex Crum, MarketWatch

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — AOL Inc. Chief Executive Tim Armstrong received a vote of confidence from his company’s shareholders Thursday, but the market didn’t show the same enthusiasm after a proposed slate of dissident board members was rejected at the Internet media company’s annual meeting.

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Reuters

AOL chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong.

AOL’sAOL +1.64% shareholders re-elected the company’s entire eight-member board of directors, including Armstrong, and voted down efforts from hedge fund Starboard Value, which had sought to gain three seats on AOL’s board.

Armstrong told AOL shareholders at the meeting, held in Boston, that results of the vote show there is confidence in the company’s strategy. AOL has been focusing on turning itself into a online media destination, with moves such last year’s $315 million acquisition of the Huffington Post news site and big investments in its Patch network of local news sites.

That investment in Patch was one of the reasons Starboard, and its CEO, Jeffrey Smith, had sought more influence over AOL’s operations. Starboard holds a 5.3% share of AOL’s outstanding stock, and the fund had criticized AOL’s investments in Patch and also cited a need for better performance from AOL’s display advertising business as reasons for its efforts to gain seats on the company’s board.

However, AOL’s shares fell by $1.77, or 6.5%, to $25.36 in afternoon trading following the results of the shareholder vote. AOL’s stock had performed well this year, rising about 40% since January. AB Computer Repair Malibu onsite data recovery services

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A good portion of that gain came in early April, when AOL agreed to sell hundreds of its technological patents to Microsoft Corp. for $1 billion, and said it would distribute the proceeds from the sale to its shareholders.

At AOL’s shareholders’ meeting, Armstrong said the company was determining the best way to return the funds to its shareholders, and that it expected to resolve the matter soon.

Armstrong also said AOL would add two more members to its board, with the goal of finding the new board members within the next year. AOL said it was considering Starboard’s nominees, including Smith, but has also hired executive search firm Spencer Stuart to help find the new board members.

 

Rex Crum is a reporter for MarketWatch in San Francisco.

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