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China Alibaba ponders Microsoft Yahoo bid


18/02/2008

Alibaba Group, the Chinese Internet company partowned by Yahoo Inc, has hired advisers to evaluate issues related to a possible purchase of its U.S. partner by Microsoft Corp after the Chinese government said it would scrutinize the deal, the Wall Street Journal said Friday.

Alibaba executives believe Microsoft will succeed in its bid for Yahoo, and has hired lawyers and financial advisers to evaluate issues related to a possible deal key among them, how Alibaba could increase managements control in areas such as board composition and voting rights, the Journal said on its Website.

The plan by Alibaba management flows from concerns about how the Chinese government would view a combination of Microsoft and Yahoo if the software giants bid for the U.S. Internet company is successful, the report said.

Microsoft on Jan. 31 made an unsolicited offer for Yahoo then valued at $44.6 billion, or $31 a share which Yahoos board this week rejected.

Alibaba has already been contacted by Chinese regulators seeking information on how it could be affected by a Microsoft purchase, the Journal said.

Yahoo owns 39 percent of Alibaba, which runs its Chinese operation as well as several other Web businesses, including Alibaba.com Ltd, Chinas largest listed Internet company.

The stake makes Yahoo the Chinese companys largest shareholder, but Alibabas management led by founder Jack Ma has retained effective control over its operations.

Alibaba executives are concerned that a possible acquisition of Yahoo by Microsoft, a much bigger company with a tradition of more handson management, could cast doubt on its independence, the Journal said.

Alibabas fourmember board currently includes one Yahoo representative, Chief Executive Jerry Yang.

Another major shareholder in Alibaba is Japans Softbank Corp, which owns about 30 percent of the Chinese company. Softbank is also partners with Yahoo in Yahoo Japan Corp.

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