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Could the ‘Howard Schultz Solution’ fix Microsoft’s problems?

With no succession plan in place, or a Steve Ballmer-heir apparent, Parkhurst herself has even suggested 'The Howard Schultz solution,' or bringing Bill Gates back. (AP Photo/File)

Could Microsoft be facing a shareholder rebellion?

Emily Parkhurst, who writes for the Puget Sound Business Journal, says investors are unimpressed with Steve Ballmer’s latest management changes and the stock price stands at around $35, while Google and Apple and Amazon are in the hundreds.

So they’re going after bigger changes from the board room.

With no succession plan in place, or a Steve Ballmer-heir apparent, Parkhurst herself has even suggested ‘The Howard Schultz solution,’ or, bringing back Bill Gates.

New shareholders from ValueAct Capitol are looking at just those types of big changes.

“ValueAct has a history of coming on to boards and pushing for really dramatic changes just to turn the stock prices around. In Adobe’s case, it (ValueAct) turned it around significantly. Their stock prices have gone up dramatically in the last six months.”

But Microsoft may have to do more than an executive shake-up to turn this ship around.

Microsoft’s dive is often blamed on Ballmer, but what has he done to steer things off course?

“I don’t know I’d necessarily call them bonehead moves,” says Parkhurst. “I don’t think he can be entirely blamed. But there is a lot of pressure to basically return some dividends to the shareholders.”

Bill Gates hasn’t shown any interest in coming back to the Microsoft helm, but ValueAct is interested in another big money move. Specifically, they want $66 billion in Microsoft funds overseas returned to the United States.

The activist shareholder group took a $2 billion stake in the company – enough to get them into the board room and influence the company – effecting 41,000 employees locally, and the rest of us tied to Microsoft in our 401Ks.’s Alyssa Kleven contributed to this report.

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About the Author

Dave Ross

Dave Ross hosts the Morning News on KIRO Radio weekdays from 5-9 a.m. Dave has won the national Edward R. Murrow Award for writing five times since he started at KIRO Radio in 1978.


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