- 18 May 08, 22:13 GMT
When Microsoft walked away from a bid for Yahoo two weeks ago, there was plenty of speculation that it would be back by the end of the year, possibly with a lower offer. Well it has come back, and a lot faster than anyone expected.
Microsoft confirmed tonight that it is talking to Yahoo again - though its rather mysterious statement talks of "an alternative that would involve a transaction with Yahoo but not an acquisition of all of Yahoo." It goes on: " Microsoft is not proposing to make a new bid to acquire all of Yahoo! at this time, but reserves the right to reconsider that alternative depending on future developments and discussions that may take place with Yahoo! or discussions with shareholders of Yahoo! or Microsoft or with other third parties. "
Right - so what is this transaction? It is difficult to see which part of Yahoo's business Microsoft would want to buy - and Yahoo to sell - without taking full control of the company. After all, if it's the search business, Yahoo will be left as a shell if it hands that over - so it might as well just negotiate a decent price for the whole kit and caboodle.
But presumably Carl Icahn's move to nominate an alternative board and go into battle with Jerry Yang over the future of Yahoo has concentrated minds. Perhaps Mr Yang and Microsoft's Steve Ballmer have realised that it's in both their interests to kiss and make up. After all, neither emerged particularly well from the noisy break-up of their marriage talks.
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