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Yahoo chief defends strategy

06 мая 2008

Yahoo might have been prepared to accept a lower price from Microsoft rather than see the proposed acquisition of the internet company collapse, Jerry Yang, its co-founder and chief executive, indicated on Monday.

The comments, in an interview with the Financial Times, marked Mr Yang’s first public attempt to justify his company’s negotiating tactics as Yahoo’s shares slumped following the failure of the deal talks.

Microsoft abandoned its pursuit of Yahoo on Saturday after raising its bid from $31 to $33 a share, compared with the $37 that Mr Yang had said it wanted.

“We did not say it was a take-it-or-leave-it number in the sense that we would never negotiate any more,” Mr Yang said on Monday. “We were totally willing to do a transaction, and they walked away.”

Yahoo’s shares fell 15 per cent on Monday following Microsoft’s withdrawal of its $46.5bn takeover offer for the web search and media group. In spite of the sharp decline, the stock remained well above levels seen before the bid approach was made as Wall Street anticipated that Microsoft would return at a later date, or that Yahoo would do other strategic deals to lift its value.

Asked if Yahoo would be open to other approaches from Microsoft, Mr Yang said: “We’re always open to all alternatives. 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.”

Mark Mahaney, Citigroup internet analyst, said in a note it was surprising the two companies could not meet halfway at $35.

Some shareholders have also questioned why the two companies failed to reach a compromise when both had already given some ground on price.

“Something in the $34 or $35 range would have satisfied most shareholders,” Bill Miller, Yahoo’s second-largest shareholder, said in an interview with the Financial Times.

Mr Miller also called on the company to buy back “at least 10 per cent” of its stock to help support its stock price. Asked about the suggestion, Mr Yang said: “We’re definitely considering all the options of creating value ... We would certainly have to consider that.”

Yahoo shares ended on Monday at $24.37.The day before Microsoft’s $31-a-share offer on February 1 they closed at $19.18.

Microsoft won praise from some analysts for not meeting Yahoo’s price.

The company had demonstrated its financial discipline by not overpaying, said analysts at Standard & Poor’s equity research.

Источник: Financial Times

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