Sunday, October 02, 2011

Jack Ma Wants to Buy Yahoo

Jack Ma, chief executive of Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group, said on Friday that he wants to buy Yahoo, marking the first public overture for the struggling Web portal.

“We are very interested,� Mr. Ma said when asked about whether his company wanted to make such an acquisition.

The comment from on stage the China 2.0 conference at Stanford University confirmed what had already been reported (SEE LINK BELOW): That Alibaba was among Yahoo’s suitors. Silver Lake Partners, Providence Partners, Andreessen Horowitz and Microsoft have also reached out to Yahoo’s board.

Yahoo’s board is reviewing its strategic options aftertechnology/carol-bartz-yahoos-chief-executive-is-fired.html"> firing Carol A. Bartz, the company’s chief executive, who failed to turn around the company during a rocky two and a half year tenure. Selling all or part of the company is among the options the board is considering.

Yahoo declined to comment about Mr. Ma’s interest in an acquisition.

Mr. Ma’s history with Yahoo goes back several years when Yahoo acquired a 40 percent stake in Alibaba. The relationship between the two companies soured, however, over human rights issues and a recent dispute over online payment service Alipay.

Mr. Ma transferred ownership of Alipay into a separate company that he controlled. Yahoo said it was unaware of the transfer until it was already complete and implied that Alibaba was not adequately compensated.

The two sides later agreed to settle the dispute.

But the bad blood remains, and Mr. Ma has said repeatedly that he wants to buy back Yahoo’s 40 percent stake in his company. By buying Yahoo, he would get that stake back.

Mr. Ma indicated on stage that he has also talked with partners to join him in a Yahoo acquisition bid without offering more details. The names of the firms he has held discussions with is unclear.

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