Report: Yahoo, AOL may combine forces; News Corp. talking to Microsoft

Murdoch about to band together with Redmond?

Yahoo Inc. is in talks with Time Warner on a deal to combine Internet operations with AOL, while News Corp. is in talks with Microsoft to jointly bid for Yahoo, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The possible deal between Yahoo and AOL is a bid to thwart Microsoft's bid for Yahoo. Yahoo plans to present shareholders with a three-fold plan to move forward without Microsoft. The Yahoo plan would also include a multi-billion dollar stock repurchase as well as an advertising tie-up with Google, the report said.

A Yahoo-AOL deal would involve Time Warner folding AOL into Yahoo and making a cash investment in return for about 20% of the combined company, the Journal said. The deal would be valued at around $10 billion, and would not include AOL's dial-up Internet access business. Yahoo would use cash from the Time Warner deal to buy back several billions of dollars worth of its own stock.

Time Warner is under pressure to find a strategy for AOL because it has lost a lot of value since their merger in 2000, the report says. There is still a lot of work to do before a deal is reached, the paper reported.

Microsoft has already offered Yahoo shareholders a combined cash and stock deal valued at $42 billion, and has stated several times that it will not raise its bid.

The Journal reported, however, that News Corp. may join Microsoft in the bid for Yahoo, although the newspaper did not say how much the offer might increase nor how the two companies would split ownership of Yahoo.

Also yesterday, Yahoo said it would begin a limited test to deliver Web advertising from Google with its own search results.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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