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Shift up, Ballmer: Microsoft expands board, makes room for activist investor

Mason Morfit takes a seat

Microsoft campus

Microsoft has appointed activist investor Mason Morfit to its board after his investment firm ValueAct Capital agitated for a greater say on how the company is run.

ValueAct bought a $2bn stake in the software firm last April and immediately started to campaign for change at the company. By August, Microsoft had capitulated, promising Morfit a seat on the board just a week after chief exec at the time Steve Ballmer announced his retirement.

The two companies agreed that ValueAct president Morfit would have the option of taking a seat on the board after the 2013 annual shareholders meeting. They also agreed to greater cooperation ahead of the meeting, including "regular meetings" between Morfit and the top brass to discuss "significant business issues".

"We've had the opportunity to work with Mason over the past six months, and we look forward to working with him more closely as a member of the board," said John Thompson, chairman of the Microsoft board.

"Mason brings valuable insights given his financial background, his extensive experience as a public company director and his perspective as a significant Microsoft shareholder."

Redmond now has an 11-member board of directors, with eight of the seats given to independent directors and the remaining three going to Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates and new chief exec Satya Nadella. ®

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