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By | Paul Kunert 18th November 2011 12:01

Microsoft investors' love for Ballmer wanes

Chief chair chucker gets to stay, though

Under-fire Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer got the backing of shareholders in the annual board election but his popularity has waned slightly.

Redmond's bald eagle, who just this week batted away investors that are keen to see the software giant break up and spin off certain divisions, was yesterday re-elected to the top table by 92 per of shareholders, down from 95 per cent last year.

This means that 5.4 billion shares were cast in favour of shy and retiring Ballmer, while 468 million were voted against and 14 million abstained. By contrast, 99 per cent of shares were supportive of chairman Bill Gates and other top brass.

The pressure on Ballmer is building and in May outspoken investor David Einhorn, the boss at Greenlight Capital, called for the chair-throwing Windows supremo to be removed from the top job. Einhorn blamed him for the drag on Microsoft's stagnant market cap.

Ballmer then responded to the activist investors at a Seattle Rotary Club meeting the following month, claiming that the fiscal 2011 results would justify his position within the firm.

When the numbers were reported in July, they exceeded Wall Street expectations despite a one per cent dip in sales at the Windows and Windows Live unit. ®

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