Microsoft lets shareholder activist ValueAct into the tent

Gigaom

Shareholder activism has its rewards. Microsoft(s msft) has forged an unusual pact with ValueAct Capital, which bought a $2 billion stake in the company in April. That was less than 1 percent of outstanding shares, but it still made ValueAct one of Microsoft’s 15 largest shareholders.

ValueAct president Mason Morfit now gets access to “selected Microsoft directors and management to discuss a range of significant business issues” and, he gets a board seat if he wants it — and everyone’s pretty sure he wants it. Microsoft’s annual shareholders’ meeting is slated for November 19.

Microsoft’s been under the gun for years for a flagging share price and concerns about top management. By most accounts those concerns forced an about-face by CEO Steve Ballmer and Chairman Bill Gates that led to Ballmer’s decision, made public last week, to step down as CEO within the year. Ballmer will remain on the…

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