Microsoft seeks allies for new Yahoo move: reports

2/07/2008 - 18:00
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MICROSOFT 108,290 +0,94%

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp is preparing a new bid for Yahoo Inc's search business and has approached other media companies about joining it in a deal that would effectively lead to Yahoo's breakup, the Wall Street Journal said.

By mid-day CNBC report refuted the report of a new approach. Citing unnamed sources, CNBC said MICROSOFT (MSFT.NQ)has held "no new talks" and there are "no negotiations," sending Yahoo's shares up 7 percent. The gain was pared a bit in midday trade.

Quoting people familiar with the discussions, the Journal said talks with Time Warner Inc and News Corp , among others, were preliminary and unlikely to result in a deal with Yahoo.

The Journal said that two weeks ago, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer called Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock to suggest they meet to discuss a new idea involving other partners.

Microsoft subsequently canceled the meeting, which Yahoo took as a sign that Ballmer's efforts to find a partner have so far failed, the paper said.

Microsoft, Yahoo, Time Warner and News Corp were not immediately available for comment.

Yahoo rejected a $47.5 billion takeover offer by Microsoft, and earlier this week questioned whether the software maker was ever serious about a full-scale merger. However, Yahoo remains open to discussing any proposal from Microsoft, the paper said.

In the meantime, Yahoo investor Carl Icahn is running a slate of directors to replace Yahoo's board and has called for the removal of Chief Executive Jerry Yang ahead of the company's annual shareholder meeting to be held in Silicon Valley on August 1.

The activist shareholder has said the company should still offer to sell itself, though Microsoft has said it is no longer interested in a full buyout.

Shortly after Microsoft walked away from talks to buy all of Yahoo, Yahoo had offered to sell itself to Microsoft for about $33 a share, the Journal reported.

However, representatives for Microsoft have in recent days, met with Icahn to encourage him to press his proxy contest as a way to keep pressure on Yahoo to enter into a deal that would lift its share price, the paper said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Yahoo shares rose 5.99 percent to $21.41 on Nasdaq. On Tuesday the stock closed at $20.20, its lowest session-ending level since January 31, the day before Microsoft first made public its offer to buy Yahoo.

Microsoft shares fell $1.8 percent, or 49 cents to $26.38. Microsoft shares closed Tuesday at $26.87, their lowest closing level since March 2007. In a volatile session, the stock had dropped to as low as $23.19, its lowest in nearly two years.

(Reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore, additional reporting by Franklin Paul; Editing by Derek Caney, Leslie Gevirtz)

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