New York - Google is exploring the possibility of helping to
finance a possible deal by others to acquire Internet search company
Yahoo!, according to a report published by the Wall Street Journal on
Google Inc. has talked to at least two-private equity
firms about potentially assisting them to finance a deal to buy Yahoo
Inc.'s core business, according to the story, which cited a person
familiar with the matter, and did not identify the source.
The Journal said Google and prospective partners have
held early-stage discussions, but haven't assembled a formal proposal.
The source said Google may not end up pursuing a bid.
A spokeswoman for Mountain View, California-based
Google declined to comment to The Associated Press. A spokeswoman for
Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo said the company doesn't comment "on
rumor or speculation."
Messages that The AP left on Saturday with representatives of Google, based in Mountain View, California, were not returned.
Any involvement by Google in a Yahoo acquisition would
likely draw antitrust scrutiny from regulators, because of both
companies' shares in the Internet search business.
The report came as investors have recently driven up
Yahoo's stock price, betting that the company will sell itself, either
in whole or in part. Closing Friday at $16.12 apiece, the shares have
gained nearly 25 percent since Sept. 6, when CEO Carol Bartz was fired.
They are up 45 percent from the stock's 52-week low reached in early
There has been repeated speculation that the company
might be sold to an assortment of buyout firms that prey upon troubled
companies. Alibaba Group, a Chinese Internet company of which Yahoo owns
a 43 percent stake, has expressed interest if it can line up the
financing for a deal that would likely require a bid of more than $20
billion, the current market value of Yahoo's shares. Microsoft Corp.,
which offered to buy Yahoo for $47.5 billion in 2008 before withdrawing
the bid, also has been mentioned as a possible suitor.
Since Bartz' firing, Tim Morse has been filling in as
Yahoo's interim CEO while also working as chief financial officer. After
the company's third-quarter earnings announcement on Tuesday, Morse
told analysts that he couldn't discuss what the company's next step
might be or when it might take it.
Yahoo is under pressure because its revenue has been
falling at a time when the Internet advertising market has been growing
as rivals such as Google and Facebook gain market share.
Although it's still recognized around the world,
Yahoo's brand has been losing its luster as people increasingly embrace
social networks such as Facebook and short-messaging service Twitter to
keep track of what's going on instead of relying on a media hub like