Updated from 3:51 p.m. EDT
SAN FRANCISCO -- Carl Icahn wants Jerry Yang out.
The billionaire investor told The Wall Street Journal that he will seek to remove Yang as chief executive of Yahoo! (YHOO - Get Report) in the event that he successfully overthrows the company's board at its annual shareholder meeting in late July.
Yang is a member of the board, but this is the first time Icahn has specifically spoken of trying to strip him of his CEO title.Icahn has been highly critical of Yahoo!'s failure to reach a merger agreement with Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report), which on May 3 withdrew its $47.5 billion offer. Shortly after that, Icahn proposed his own slate of candidates to replace the tech giant's current board. "I'm very cynical about many of the boards and CEOs in this country, but even I am amazed at the lengths that the Jerry Yang and the board went to entrench themselves in this situation," he told the Journal. Yahoo! issued a response to Icahn's comments late Tuesday, saying that the company "has been crystal clear that it would consider any proposal by Microsoft that was in the best interests of its shareholders." "To that end, Yahoo has engaged in extensive discussions with Microsoft over the last several months, culminating in Microsoft's decision not to pursue an acquisition of Yahoo!," the company said. "Mr. Icahn's assertions ignore this clear factual record." Icahn's anger has sharpened with the release of court documents on Monday by a Delaware judge as part of a shareholder lawsuit. Yahoo! had sought to block portions of the complaint, but ultimately failed. The complaint was released in its entirety on Monday, citing evidence that Yang had purposely tried to sabotage a deal with Microsoft by offering generous severance packages to Yahoo! employees who decided to leave the company. Icahn told the Journal that the cost to retain the employees could have amounted to $2.5 billion or more for Microsoft, making it all the more difficult to justify a merger. Yahoo! and Microsoft have both acknowledged that they are trying to come up with an alternative to the merger but no details have been revealed. Shares of Yahoo! were down 1.5%, or 40 cents, to $26 in recent trading.