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Alibaba, Softbank Said to Seek Yahoo Partners

8:40 am on Nov 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Alibaba, Softbank Said to Seek Yahoo Partners [bloomberg.com]

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Softbank Corp. (9984) are talking with private-equity funds about making a bid for all of Yahoo! Inc. without the company's blessing, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Alibaba and Softbank, in an effort to buy back stakes owned by Yahoo, have grown impatient with a lack of progress in direct talks with the company, said the people, who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private.

The Asian companies aim to work with partners that haven't signed non-disclosure agreements circulated by Yahoo that can make it harder to bid for the whole company, the people said. Yahoo prefers to sell a smaller stake, rather than cede complete control, the people said. Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma has said he's "very interested" in acquiring Yahoo.

"Alibaba Group and Softbank are willing to buy back their shares soon," said Tomoaki Kawasaki, a Tokyo-based analyst at Cosmo Securities Co.