Yahoo shares pop on talk of bid by Alibaba

@CNNMoneyTech December 1, 2011: 5:24 PM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Another day, another Yahoo buyout rumor. The latest chatter: Chinese Internet company Alibaba, of which Yahoo owns a stake, is preparing a takeover bid.

Alibaba and Softbank are "in advanced talks" with capital firms Blackstone Group (BX) and Bain Capital to buy all of Yahoo, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

Yahoo shares closed about 3.3% higher on Thursday following the report.

The rumor mill has churned out nearly a dozen potential Yahoo buyers in the past few months; it's no secret that Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500) is in play.

The unceremonious September firing of CEO Carol Bartz underscored Yahoo's ongoing problems as it struggles to shed its reputation as an outdated Internet portal. The company gave up on search and is losing its former stranglehold on the display advertising market to rivals such as Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) and Facebook.

In October, a few weeks after Bartz's firing, the Wall Street Journal reported that Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) and Allen & Co. were preparing documents for prospective Yahoo bidders.

Both private equity firms and tech titans alike are said to be circling. But an Alibaba buyout would bring an interesting end to its sordid history with Yahoo.

Yahoo currently owns about a 40% stake in Alibaba, which is considered one of its most valuable assets. But the relationship between the two partners has been contentious over the past year.

Alibaba CEO Jack Ma and former Yahoo CEO Bartz had a dispute over ownership of Alipay, an online payment unit similar to eBay (EBAY, Fortune 500)-owned PayPal. In May, Yahoo disclosed that Alibaba had shifted 100% ownership of Alipay to a new entity controlled by Ma. Investors punished Yahoo's stock after the flap, and the discussion between the two companies devolved into he-said-she-said.

Ma said at a conference in late September that his company would be "interested" in buying all of Yahoo -- a purchase that would essentially allow Ma to buy back control of that 40% Alibaba stake.

If an Alibaba deal doesn't play out, a long list of buyers on both the private and public side remains. Private equity firm Silver Lake Partners is cited often as a potential suitor, while Andreessen Horowitz and KKR have been named in a handful of news articles.

Reports in late October said Google was preparing a bid in addition to Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500), which offered to buy Yahoo for more than $47 billion in 2008 and was turned down. AOL (AOL) is believed to be another potential buyer, even though the online portal company is facing massive challenges of its own.  To top of page

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