I’m watching the bulletins roll in about the just-announced merger agreement between Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines and thinking about Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO). Why? Northwest and Yahoo share a chairman in Roy Bostock, thanks to the incredibly small world of independent board members — putting him at the center of two of the most high-profile possible mergers of 2008. Bostock will take a demotion, though, if the airline merger goes through: he’d only be vice chairman of the new Delta.
Any foreshadowing for Yahoo and suitor Microsoft? Delta gets the name and will keep headquarters in Atlanta. Northwest will have executive offices in the Twin Cities. (Gee, that worked so well for Sprint (NYSE: S) Nextel.) No major unions that can hold up a deal. But Delta and Northwest are both struggling to survive and need a massive change. Bostock’s other company is struggling to survive intact against a Goliath that has enough security to walk away if CEO Steve Ballmer wants — and enough money to make life miserable if he prefers to fight.
As for Bostock, however capable he is, being involved at this level in two possible mergers at the same time is one too many. Granted, neither chairmanship is full time but still … maybe Yahoo will see some benefit from Delta-Northwest heading to the next phase.
Joseph adds: A talking head on CNBC today, in anticipation of this deal being announced, predicted that Delta-Northwest would be the greatest merger in the history of aviation. And I couldn’t help but think that this seemed like a rather low bar to set. At the same time, if you made a list of big, transformative internet buys, it wouldn’t take a whole lot for Microsoft-Yahoo to sail in as the best ever.