Monday, February 04, 2008

Yahoo in Play

With Microsoft's unsolicited bid for Yahoo, it's now clear that Yahoo is in play. It's likely that other offers will follow, particularly with Google now poised to perhaps help Yahoo find a white knight. My guess is that Yahoo's board and management will try to raise the selling price by attracting other bidders, recognizing that shareholders will not accept a rejection of the bid and maintenance of the status quo.

One key question is: Can Yahoo find a bidder whose culture represents a better fit than Microsoft? Cultural mismatch represents a key hurdle in many acquisition integration efforts, and it surely would be an obstacle if Microsoft purchases Yahoo. Perhaps another company could provide a better match.

Alternatively, we could see a bid by a firm such as News Corporation. Murdoch has a reputation for allowing each of his businesses to run fairly autonomously, though he intervenes selectively on key strategic choices. Perhaps Yahoo's board and management would conclude that they can live with a takeover by News Corporation, because those top managers who remain would maintain some autonomy, rather than facing full integration with other News Corp businesses.

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