Yahoo May Revisit News Corp if AOL Dims: Source

By Reuters -  |  Posted 2008-07-18 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Yahoo and Time Warner have been discussing the terms of a potential deal in which Yahoo would merge its operations with AOL, and Time Warner would take a minority stake in the combined company, sources have said.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Yahoo Inc (YHOO.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) is unlikely to get into a bidding war over AOL with Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) because if Microsoft gets in the way, Yahoo could instead renew talks over News Corp's (NWSa.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) Web properties, a person with knowledge of the plans said on Thursday.

Yahoo, seeking to shape an independent growth strategy after rebuffing Microsoft's bid to take it over, has kept in contact with News Corp, the source said, but discussions with Time Warner Inc (TWX.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) about AOL appeared further along.

News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch said just last week that a deal between his company -- which owns the popular MySpace online social network -- and Yahoo was "very unlikely."

Yahoo and Time Warner have been discussing the terms of a potential deal in which Yahoo would merge its operations with AOL, and Time Warner would take a minority stake in the combined company, sources have said.

Microsoft has also been discussing a potential AOL deal with Time Warner, another source said earlier this week.

Any deal between Yahoo and AOL was unlikely to happen before Yahoo's August 1 annual shareholders meeting, the first source said.

Such a deal would be one part of Yahoo's plans to grow as an independent company -- plans that include a previously announced search ad tie-up with Google Inc (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and a potential sale of Yahoo's Asian assets, the source said.

Yahoo said in a public filing on Thursday it was seeking ways to "unlock the value of our Asian assets" -- holdings primarily in Japan and China worth around $9 per Yahoo share.

Yahoo is also sharing various pieces of its alternative strategy with shareholders ahead of August 1, as it tries to convince them the company can survive without ceding control to Microsoft, two people familiar with the matter said.

Shareholders will have to decide on August 1 whether they want to retain Yahoo's current board or vote in a rival slate nominated by billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who owns nearly 5 percent of the company.

Robert Hagstrom, a portfolio manager at Legg Mason, Yahoo's second-largest institutional shareholder, told Reuters last week his firm prefers a full acquisition of Yahoo by Microsoft for $33 a share.

Other shareholders, too, have said they prefer a full acquisition rather than a partial deal that breaks up the Internet company.

Microsoft and Icahn recently teamed up to propose a deal that would involve Yahoo selling its search business to the software company, and handing over the remainder to Icahn.

The Microsoft-Icahn proposal is a sweetened version of a partial deal Microsoft had earlier offered Yahoo, after withdrawing its $47.5 billion offer to buy the whole company.

Yahoo has said it is willing to sell itself to Microsoft for $33 a share, but Microsoft said it is no longer interested in a full acquisition.

Shares of Yahoo edged down 4 cents to close at $22.44 on the Nasdaq on Thursday, while Microsoft shares rose 26 cents, or nearly 1 percent, to close at $27.52.

Officials from Yahoo, Time Warner and News Corp were not immediately available or declined to comment.

(Additional reporting by Kenneth Li; Editing by Gary Hill)



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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