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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Plot Thickens in Yahoo-Microsoft Drama

Yahoo's last ditch efforts to avoid a takeover by Microsoft Corp. appear to be setting the stage for a dramatic finale featuring a rich cast of Internet and media stars.

Eager to frustrate Microsoft in any way possible, Internet search leader Google Inc. has already agreed to help out Yahoo by participating in an unusual test that will gauge how much more advertising Google can sell for its struggling rival. The 2 week experiment will be limited to ads posted alongside a small percentage of Yahoo's online search results in the United States.

As part of the AOL deal, Time Warner would make a cash investment in return for a 20 percent stake in the combined entity, according to a Wall Street Journal story that cited unnamed people familiar with the matter. Yahoo then would use the Time Warner cash to buy back stock to put some money in shareholders' pockets. Yahoo would pay between $30 and $40 per share for an unspecified amount of stock, the Journal said.

Microsoft's bid was worth about $42 billion, or $29.24 per share, as of Wednesday, when Yahoo shares closed at $27.77. Analysts have said that Microsoft can afford to pay about $35 per share, or about $50 billion, for Yahoo without undermining its future earnings. Yahoo has indicated it thinks its franchise is worth at least $40 per share, or more than $55 billion.

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