Alibaba's Ma: "very interested" in buying Yahoo

Fri Sep 30, 2011 7:45pm EDT
 

By Alexei Oreskovic

PALO ALTO, California (Reuters) - Alibaba founder and CEO Jack Ma is keen on buying Yahoo Inc if the opportunity presents itself and has held discussions with other potential buyers about options.

Asked whether Alibaba might be keen on picking up the ailing Internet giant, Ma told the audience during a speech at Stanford University that he would be "very interested in Yahoo."

The former English schoolteacher later added that, were he to have his way, he would be keen on acquiring all of Yahoo, not just buy back the stake the U.S. company owns in Alibaba.

Yahoo shares leaped 5 percent to $13.80 in after-hours trading.

Alibaba has had a strained relationship with the U.S. Web company, which owns roughly 40 percent of the Chinese e-commerce giant. Ma's attempts to buy back some of Yahoo's stake in his company were rebuffed by former Yahoo Chief Executive Carol Bartz, who was fired earlier this month.

Yahoo has received inquiries from multiple parties about "potential options," but the struggling company is expected to take months to decide its future. It has retained Allen & Co to help it conduct a long-term "strategic review."

Private equity firm Silver Lake Partners is among the parties that have been in touch with Allen & Co, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Yahoo's board has also started to look for a permanent CEO, but provided no details on its progress, or whether it hired an executive recruiting firm to oversee the search.

At an all-hands meeting the day after Bartz was fired, Yang said the company was not for sale, according to another source familiar with the matter. But analysts are staking good odds that Yahoo could eventually be acquired.

(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; editing by Andre Grenon)