Update: Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) spokesman Keith Cocozza says the company never granted Jon Miller permission to join the Yahoo board. “When Jon Miller signed his contract it specifically said that upon payout of the contract he could not work for a variety of competitors until March 2009. The non-compete in his contract was never waived.” That non-compete covers a number of other companies. Cocozza wouldn’t speculate about how Miller or anyone else might have thought otherwise. More as we know it.
In a high-stakes corporate case of Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown, TechCrunch reports and we have confirmed Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes waited until the last minute to tell former AOL CEO Jon Miller that he would not be allowed to join Yahoo’s board — after previously agreeing to an exception to Miller’s non-compete. Because Miller has a year left on that non-compete, Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang and Miller approached Time Warner for approval before publicizing Miller as a compromise board candidate in the deal with Carl Icahn. We’ve been told they thought it had been approved, Yahoo did due diligence and Miller was on the verge of being announced as a new board member when that last-minute call came.
People familiar with the situation — and with ongoing discussions about Yahoo possibly acquiring AOL — are mystified by this latest chapter. Yang, now in the midst of the Yahoo annual meeting, is said to be furious — even though his public persona, as Rafat reported earlier, is relaxed and calm. This would seem to put a major spanner in the works of any effort to make a match between AOL and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO). One thought: could another possible suitor — it’s not like the pool is limitless — have expressed dismay that Time Warner would allow Miller to be part of a competing board?
Update: Should point out that the LAT raised the possibility that Miller might not join the board in a feature on the sought-after exec posted last night.