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Wed, May 07, 2008 - Page 10 News List

Yahoo still open to negotiate on Microsoft deal


Yahoo is willing to negotiate further with Microsoft, top executive Jerry Yang (楊致遠) said in an interview yesterday, as he defended his handling of the aborted takeover bid.

“We were totally willing to do a transaction, and they walked away,” Yahoo CEO Yang told the Financial Times, adding that he is open to renewing negotiations with Microsoft.

“We’ve put out a way of having them buy Yahoo, give them a path to do that. If that’s what they want to do, we would be open to a conversation,” he said.

Yahoo shares sank 15 percent by the close of trading on Monday but remained US$5 above the price of the stock when Microsoft made its offer on Feb. 1, signaling that many in the market believe the deal is not dead.

“I don’t think it’s over,” IDC analyst Karsten Weide said of Microsoft’s quest to acquire Yahoo. “I think what really happened is Microsoft called Yahoo’s bluff. For now, they are singing the tune, ‘Time is on my side.’”

Yahoo announced it had picked July 3 as the date for an annual shareholders meeting, expected to feature fireworks from peeved investors.

All 10 members of Yahoo’s board of directors are up for re-election at the meeting, and the announcement of a date opens the window for nominating people to run against the incumbents.

Yahoo stockholders will be furious and litigious, putting tremendous pressure on the firm to quickly come up with an impressive business plan or go crawling back to Microsoft, analysts believe.

“The question for Yahoo is, how long can they hold out,” Weide said.

Microsoft’s stock price ended on Monday down slightly at US$29.08, hinting that the market thinks the world’s leading software maker needs a Yahoo tie-up to battle Internet advertising colossus Google.

Google’s stock price climbed more than 2 percent, in a sign investors feel the Microsoft setback is good for the Mountain View, California-based company.

On Saturday, Microsoft yanked its Yahoo proposal, saying the struggling Internet pioneer refused to budge despite the software giant upping its offer to nearly US$50 billion.

Microsoft raised its offer from US$31 to US$33 per Yahoo share during talks aimed at resolving three months of corporate dueling.

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said Yang refused to accept less than US$37 per share, a US$5 billion bump in purchase price.

Yang said earlier in his company blog that Yahoo would be better able to move forward without the distraction of a takeover bid.

“No one is celebrating about the outcome of these past three months and no one should,” Yang wrote in a memo posted on the Yahoo Web site.

“We live and work in a competitive world and the Web is only going to get more competitive. Executing on our strategic plan is what matters most,” he said.

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