Yahoo Still Open to Microsoft Talks

By Reuters  |  Posted 05-06-2008 Print Email
As analysts turn to see past the failed deal, the firm's co-founder and CEO signals a more open stance toward Microsoft.

Yahoo chief Jerry Yang signaled a more open stance towards Microsoft on Monday, saying he had been seeking common ground when the software maker abruptly ended deal talks.

Yang said he had "mixed feelings" about the weekend outcome, after investors showed their disappointment over the break-up of negotiations by sending Yahoo shares down 15 percent.

"We were negotiating a way to find common ground and then on Saturday they chose to walk away," said the 39-year-old co-founder of the pioneering Internet company. "They started it and they walked away."

Asked if Yahoo would still leave a door open for Microsoft to return, Yang said: "If they have anything new to say, we would be open. ... I am more than willing to listen."

After three months of negotiations, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer raised his offer for Yahoo to $33 per share from an initial $31, for a total deal value of about $47.5 billion.

Yang held out for $37 per share, saying that even the sweetened offer did not value Yahoo properly for its Web search advertising technology, its prominence in selling display ads and its lucrative overseas holdings.

But its two largest shareholders independently told the New York Times they would have sold for as little as $34.

"I am extremely angry at Jerry Yang and at the so-called independent board," Gordon Crawford, portfolio manager for Capital Research Global Investors, the largest Yahoo shareholder with some 16 percent of stock, told the newspaper.

Some analysts said Yahoo shares, which dropped $4.30 to end at $24.37 on Monday, could have fallen 30 percent to closer to $19.18, its price before Microsoft made its bid public on February 1. But the descent was cushioned by investors who are betting Microsoft will eventually come back to the table.

"This is going to play out over the next several months and there is still a chance Microsoft will buy the company for somewhere around $33 a share," said Todd Dagres, general partner at venture capital fund Spark Capital.


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