Yahoo-AOL Deal in the Works

By Cindy Waxer October 14, 2010

A Wall Street Journal report has online tongues wagging about what it would mean if AOL purchased Yahoo. The article reveals that digital content provider AOL, along with private equity firms including Silver Lake Partners and Blackstone Group, are looking to acquire Yahoo in an effort to eat into Google’s burgeoning market share. 

Shares of Yahoo jumped more than 12 percent in pre-market trading following the report that the Internet portal may be soon bought out. The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed individuals familiar with the plan, said the acquisition discussions were very preliminary. What’s more, Yahoo and AOL have yet to publicly comment on the report.

This isn’t the first time there’s been talk of a Yahoo acquisition. In 2008, the company rejected Microsoft’s proposal to acquire all outstanding shares of Yahoo common stock for per share consideration of $31, representing a total of approximately $44.6 billion. In the end, Microsoft and Yahoo joined forces, striking a 10-year search agreement in which Yahoo continues to maintain its own identity while Microsoft's Bing system performs all of Microsoft’s and Yahoo’s search engine work. The deal, announced in July 2009, also ensures that Microsoft keeps 12 percent of the revenue from Yahoo-driven searches.

If the AOL-Yahoo acquisition actually comes to fruition, Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL would together control about 30 percent of the U.S. search market, compared to Google's 65.4 percent stake, according to the latest figures from Comscore.

As it stands, Microsoft has earmarked $100 million for Bing marketing. And Yahoo currently boasts 96 million Yahoo Mail users in the United States, four times as many as Gmail. If AOL and Yahoo team up, it could represent one of the biggest efforts yet to challenge Google’s online business, where Microsoft has lost a reported $5 billion over the last four years.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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