Microsoft Is Said to Be Nowhere Close to a Bid for Yahoo

Microsoft Is Said to Be Nowhere Close to Making Bid
Microsoft Corp. signage sits on display before a keynote speech by Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft, during the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Microsoft Corp. isn’t anywhere close to making an offer for Yahoo! Inc. and senior executives of the software maker aren’t involved in discussions, two people familiar with the matter said.

Microsoft does plan to review Yahoo’s financial information, due to be circulated as soon as this week, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. Yahoo doesn’t regard Microsoft as a serious bidder, said a person familiar with Yahoo’s thinking.

Yahoo shares surged 10 percent today after Reuters reported that Microsoft may make an offer. Yahoo is fielding inquiries from potential buyers after ousting Chief Executive Office Carol Bartz and starting a review of its strategic options last month. Yahoo rose $1.46 to $15.92 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading, the biggest gain since October 2008.

Yahoo turned down a $47.5 billion offer from Microsoft in 2008, rankling investors. The two companies later forged a 10-year agreement to outsource Yahoo’s search engine to Microsoft, diminishing the chance of a full acquisition. Since then, Yahoo has struggled to invigorate sales growth and beat back competition from Facebook Inc. and Google Inc.

Dana Lengkeek, a spokeswoman at Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo, and Peter Wootton, a spokesman for Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, declined to comment.

‘Multiple Parties’

Yahoo, the biggest U.S. Web portal, said in a September memo to employees that its advisers have fielded inquiries from “multiple parties” interested in unspecified options. Last week, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Chairman Jack Ma said he’s “very interested” in buying Yahoo, which owns about 40 percent of his company.

The private-equity firm Silver Lake also has discussed a possible bid for Yahoo, part of a deal that may include Alibaba and Russia’s Digital Sky Technologies, people with direct knowledge of the matter have told Bloomberg.

The Silver Lake group contacted Yahoo and its advisers in recent weeks to inform them of a possible offer, said one person, who declined to be identified because the talks are private. The discussions are still at an early stage and it’s not certain that the group will agree to make a bid, the people said.

Before Yahoo’s stock surge today, the shares had declined 13 percent this year.

Editors: Tom Giles, Jillian Ward

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