AOL shareholder says Microsoft sale not good enough

AOL’s gadfly, the activist hedge fund Starboard Value, says that it is still unhappy dispite the decision to sell $1 billion of its patents to Microsoft.

AOL decided to sell its patents to Vole and effectively give what is left of Netscape to the company that sank it.

But in a letter to US regulators, Starboard has said that it wants three of its candidates installed to the board of the Internet firm.

Starboard is happy that the company sold the patents, but it did not address “serious concerns” with the “poor operating performance” at AOL.

Starboard Value said in February it intended to nominate five members to AOL’s board. Starboard nominees include Ronald Epstein, CEO of Epicenter IP Group; Steven Fink, former CEO of Larry Ellison’s investments; Dennis Miller, a strategic adviser to Lionsgate; Jeffrey Smith, CEO of Starboard Value; and James Warner, principal of Third Floor Enterprises, an advisory firm specialising in digital marketing and media.

Reuters said that Starboard has a 5.3 percent stake in the Internet company and is one of its largest shareholders.

But it was a shakeup and one of the things it has been insisting is that AOL auction its patents.

AOL said a “significant portion” of the patent sale should be returned to shareholders, but Starboard wants all of it.

It said that shareholder capital will continue to be used for poorly conceived acquisitions and investments into money-losing initiatives.

One of the sorts of bad investment decisions is Patch, a group of community news websites. AOL has a fairly rubbish display ad business, the letter moaned.