SAN FRANCISCO - Billionaire investor Carl Icahn received the green light from the Federal Trade Commission to purchase large chunks of
shares in preparation for his proxy battle to replace the company's board.
Icahn, who owns nearly 10 million Yahoo! shares as well as options to acquire another 49 million shares, earlier this month indicated that he is seeking clearance from the FTC to purchase up to $2.5 billion worth of stock.
Any share purchases valued at a minimum of $63 million requires FTC approval. Spokesman Mitch Katz says Icahn's request was granted on Friday as part of a weekly listing of transaction approvals.
Icahn has been accumulating shares in order to oust nine members of Yahoo!'s board and replace them with his own slate of candidates who would favor a merger with
. The financier has been critical of Yahoo! for failing to reach a deal with the software giant.
A 10th seat on the board, held by Edward Kozel, who resigned last week, will not be filled.
Although Microsoft yanked its last merger offer of $47.5 billion, it is now talking with Yahoo! about coming up with an alternative deal that would not necessarily result in an outright takeover, although Microsoft reserves the right to still pursue that option. No details of what that deal would look like have been made available.
It is unclear whether the two companies will reach an agreement before Yahoo!'s shareholder meeting, which has been postponed from July 3 to an unspecified date later that month.
Shares of Yahoo! were down 1.5%, or 40 cents, to $26.67 in recent trading.