According to Saul “Bits” Hansell, writing at the New York Times’ technology blog, no one wants to buy the gigantic bag of miscellaneous crap known as CNET (apologies to anyone with actual talent who works there, including blogger Caroline McCarthy and ZDNet blogger Steve O’Hear), but PaidContent has a different take on the story: it says that the venture fund that is targeting the company is circling for the kill.
From the sounds of it, Jana Partners is planning to launch a proxy fight, in which his firm will push for seats on the board and hope to either convince the company to sell, or pressure it into doing what the venture fund wants — and one of the keys in that fight is former AOL exec Jon Miller, who is one of the people on Jana’s slate of proposed board members for CNET if they win the proxy fight.
An asset sale seems pretty likely to me. Saul is right in that CNET probably isn’t worth what it would want from an outright acquirer — especially not if you include a standard takeover premium. Maybe Jana is just following Mike Arrington’s advice to bust CNET up and sell off the pieces. In any case, it should be fun to watch.