Mithras Capital — Who Are These Yahoos?

In times of trouble people like to revisit what they know, and what could be more familiar than the ever-present effort to get Microsoft and Yahoo together at last? Mithras Capital Partners has floated a proposal that Microsoft buy Yahoo for $22 a share, or 74 percent more than its closing price on Thursday. According to Reuters, Microsoft could then unload Yahoo’s Asian assets and recognize $3 billion in savings, making for a total deal cost of $10.3 billion.

Since the plan seems crazy, given the MicroHoo history, Mithras’ small stake (.14 percent) and the current economy, I wondered who the heck Mithras Capital is, and a bit more about its investment strategy. Surprise, Mark Nelson of Mithras Capital is not a fan of the Yahoo-Google search deal! While Mithras has been pushing a sale of Yahoo to Microsoft for months, they also have ownership stakes in SourceForge (5.6 percent as of August) and Transmeta (4.9 percent in June). SourceForge owns the Slashdot web sites as well as ThinkGeek. Apparently Mithras has tried to meet with management at SourceForge, but management has refused.

Transmeta, the beleaguered chipmaker turned intellectual property shop, put itself up for sale in September, and has seen its stock reach a 52-week high while the rest of the market bombs. There’s no indication in Mithras’ SEC filings that they’ve met with Transmeta executives. Perhaps this Yahoo stunt is an attempt to get its name in the paper and strike fear in the hearts of management at its other investments. Or maybe given the economy, it feels it has nothing left to lose.