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Microsoft cedes board seat to activist investor

Ballmer bowing out as ValueAct storms in

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Just a week after Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer announced plans for his retirement Redmond has offered activist shareholder ValueAct Capital a seat on the Microsoft board.

Redmond announced the "cooperation agreement" in the late hours of Friday afternoon in San Francisco before the Labor Day three day weekend, which is an ideal time to bury news.

The agreement means ValueAct Capital – one of Microsoft's 15 largest shareholders with 0.8 percent of common stock – will "have the option" of plonking its president Mason Morfit onto Microsoft's board of directors, after the 2013 annual shareholders meeting.

Until the board meeting, the agreement "provides for regular meetings between Mason Morfit, president of ValueAct Capital, and selected Microsoft directors and management to discuss a range of significant business issues," Microsoft said.

ValueAct Capital gobbled $2bn of Microsoft stock in April, and at the time the company's founder, Jeffrey Ubben, said "Microsoft could be the largest cloud company in the world," but bemoaned some of its consumer missteps.

By July, ValueAct was pushing for a seat on the Microsoft board, and also allegedly succession planning for a post-Ballmer world, Reuters reported. At the end of that month, Microsoft announced revenue figures for its Surface consumer slabs that were so poor El Reg termed them "shockingly hideous".

Now, Steve Ballmer is on the way out, and ValueAct Capital has the offer of a seat of the board.

"Our board and management team are committed to enhancing growth and value for Microsoft shareholders, and we look forward to ValueAct Capital's input," Microsoft's departing chief Steve Ballmer, said in the statement. ®

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