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株主訴訟でCNETの異議、却下される

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Will Price、Hummer Winbladのパートナーを辞して「WidgetBox」を創立

CNETとその最大の株主、Jana Partnersとの間の関係は新たな段階を迎えたたようだ。先週のJana側代表との激しいやりとり でCNETがJanaに対して取った「取締役の席を一切与えない」という厳しい態度(Janaが同社の株の21%を保有しているにもかかわらず)は維持できなくなる見込みだ。事情に通じた情報源によると(下にアップデートあり。事実と確認ずみ)、CNETはJanaの「自分たちの推す取締役を任命せよ」という訴訟を却下に持ち込むことができると考えていたようだ。Janaは〔次の株主総会で〕取締役の人数を原行の8人から13人に増員することを要求し、そのうちの7人を任命する権利があると主張していた。

CNETはこの訴えを技術的の理由な却下させることができると考えていた。JANAの要求がCNETの定款等に照らして適正であるかどうかについて何か問題があったらしい。CNETは弁護団から勝てる見込みが強いという説明を受けていた。訴訟が却下されるはずだと自信満々だったので、CEOのNeilAsheは今週Janaに対し取締役の推薦をたった1人だけ認めると提案したほどだ。

しかし今回の裁判所の決定でNeil Asheの立場は大幅に弱体化した。

アップデート:Reutersのさらに詳しい記事は ここに

アップデート2:
デラウェア州裁判所の決定に関するJANA Partnersの声明(英文)

DELAWARE COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF JANA PARTNERS’ RIGHT TO NOMINATE SEVEN DIRECTORS FOR BOARD OF CNET NETWORKS

NEW YORK, March 13, 2008 – JANA Partners LLC (“JANA”) announced today that the Delaware Court of Chancery has upheld the rights of an affiliate of JANA to nominate seven directors and propose other business at the 2008 Annual Meeting of Stockholders of CNET Networks, Inc. (Nasdaq: CNET). Following today’s ruling, JANA Managing Partner Barry Rosenstein issued the following statement:

“This is the first step towards putting aside the legal mechanisms CNET has relied on to fight our effort to create stockholder value, which have included a poison pill, golden parachutes and an attempt to prevent us from proposing new directors, an attempt which the court today rejected. We look forward to moving on to a substantive discussion of the need for change at CNET, and why we believe our nominees have the expertise and experience needed to reverse CNET’s ongoing underperformance. We hope that the company will now put aside their efforts to thwart this debate with technicalities and instead engage stockholders in a dialogue about the company’s future.”

On January 7, 2008 CNET claimed that the efforts of a JANA affiliate to nominate two directors for election to the open board seats at CNET’s 2008 Annual Stockholders Meeting and to add five additional nominees to the board of directors were “improper” under its bylaws and sought to deny its right as a stockholder to do so, after which this affiliate of JANA filed suit in Delaware challenging the company’s interpretation of its bylaws. The Delaware Court of Chancery today rejected CNET’s arguments and affirmed JANA’s affiliate’s right to have its nominations and proposals considered by stockholders at CNET’s Annual Meeting.
Background
JANA has joined with Sandell Asset Management Corp. (“Sandell”), Paul Gardi of Alex Interactive Media, Spark Capital and Velocity Interactive Group in seeking to elect two individuals to replace the board members who are up for re-election at CNET’s 2008 stockholders meeting and to expand CNET’s board by five members and nominate individuals to fill those vacancies.
JANA Partners LLC is a multi-billion dollar investment management firm founded in 2001 by Barry Rosenstein. JANA has on numerous occasions, alone or with other shareholders, challenged management to focus on creating shareholder value, including with respect to Kerr-McGee Corporation, Time Warner, Titan International, TD Ameritrade and The Houston Exploration Company.
Alex Interactive Media, LLC (“AIM”) is a private company focused on leveraging its domain expertise in digital media and related industries.
Spark Capital is a venture capital fund focused on building businesses that transform the distribution, management and monetization of media and content, with experience in identifying and actively building market-leading companies in sectors including infrastructure (Qtera, RiverDelta, Aether Systems, Broadbus and BigBand), networks (College Sports Television, TVONE and XCOM) and services (Akamai and the Platform). Spark Capital has over $600 million under management, and is based in Boston, Massachusetts.
Velocity Interactive Group, LLC is an investment firm that focuses on digital media and communications. Velocity Interactive Group has offices in Palo Alto, Los Angeles and New York.
Sandell Asset Management Corp., is a multi-billion dollar global investment management firm, founded by Thomas E. Sandell, that focuses on global corporate events and restructurings throughout North America, Continental Europe, the United Kingdom, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific theatres. Sandell frequently will take an “active involvement” in facilitating financial or organization improvements accruing to the benefit of investors.

[原文へ]

(翻訳:Namekawa, U)