SAN FRANCISCO – Recently hired Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer may scrap the Internet companys plan to reward its long-tormented shareholders with a multibillion-dollar payout later this year, underscoring the uncertainty accompanying new leadership.
The unexpected twist disclosed in regulatory documents filed Thursday after the stock market closed caused Yahoo shares to drop more than 3 percent in extended trading.
Mayer is mulling a shift in direction as part of a sweeping review that she is conducting in an attempt to revive Yahoos revenue growth, spur more product innovation and boost the companys stock price.
Those goals have eluded her recent predecessors.
Yahoo Inc. lured Mayer away from rival Google Inc. three weeks ago to become its fifth CEO in the past five years.
Given Yahoos persistent headaches, shareholders presumably want Mayer to shake things up.
Even so Mayer will risk alienating Wall Street if she decides to do something differently with a windfall that will pour into Yahoo after it completes an agreement to sell half its stake in thriving Chinese Internet company Alibaba Group for $7.1 billion toward the end of the year.
Yahoo pledged to distribute most of the anticipated after-tax proceeds – an estimated $4.2 billion – to shareholders. The company from Sunnyvale, Calif., reiterated that in a conference call held the after Mayers hiring was announced.
Since then, though, Mayer has decided to reassess Yahoos strategy in an effort to enhance long-term shareholder value, according to the companys quarterly report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Her review will include potential acquisitions, a restructuring plan that eliminated 1,500 jobs during the second quarter and the plans for the Alibaba proceeds, the documents said.
Mayers analysis could culminate in a complete about-face from the previous plans or less dramatic changes, according to Yahoo. The documents didnt specify a timetable for completing Mayers review.
If Mayer decides to chart a completely new direction, she will need the approval of Yahoos board.
The directors include a major shareholder, New York hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb, who stands to be one of the biggest winners from an Alibaba payday.
Loebs fund, Third Point LLC, owns a 5.8 percent stake in Yahoo.