Microsoft withdraws offer for Yahoo

Microsoft Corp walked away from its bid to buy Yahoo Inc last night after the Internet company turned down its offer to raise the price by $5 billion to $47.5 billion.

Microsoft's offer was for $33 a share but Yahoo would not lower its demand below $37, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said. The software company initially bid $31 per share for Yahoo more than three months ago.

"We believe the economics demanded by Yahoo do not make sense for us, and it is in the best interests of Microsoft stockholders, employees and other stakeholders to withdraw our proposal," Ballmer said in a statement.

Analysts say Yahoo has overplayed its hand and they expect the Web pioneer's shares to fall as much as 30 percent to $20 levels when Nasdaq trading resumes on Monday. The stock rose nearly 7 percent to $28.67 on Friday on hopes of an agreement between Microsoft and Yahoo.

"Wow. I'm shocked Yahoo wasn't more reasonable. The stock will probably go down at least $5 on Monday. It is surprising that Ballmer walked away instead of trying a hostile bid at $33," said Walter Price, a senior portfolio manager at RCM fund management company in San Francisco, which had 21 million Microsoft shares and 2 million Yahoo shares as of the end of December.

Laura Martin, a senior analyst at Soleil Securities, said she expected a number of shareholder lawsuits against Yahoo.

"The Yahoo guys want too much money for their company. We think $33 a share is fair in the context of the weakening economic environment and adverse advertising trends," she said. "They've prioritized employees over shareholders in the hopes that someday they can create more than $8 billion of value, even if they have no track record of doing so," she said.

Some Wall Street analysts also have said Microsoft could pull its bid as a negotiating strategy aimed at putting pressure on Yahoo to eventually accept a future offer.

Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock said in a statement the company believed from the beginning that Microsoft's offer undervalued it, and the board was "pleased that so many of our shareholders joined us in expressing that view."

He said Yahoo was pursuing "strategic opportunities" but gave no details.

Yahoo has courted possible deals with Time Warner Inc's AOL Internet division or News Corp's MySpace online social network, and tested a search advertising partnership with Google Inc. A partnership with Google may be announced as early as next week, a person with knowledge of discussions told Reuters.

"With the distraction of Microsoft's unsolicited proposal now behind us, we will be able to focus all of our energies on executing the most important transition in our history so that we can maximize our potential to the benefit of our shareholders, employees, partners and users," Yahoo co-founder and Chief Executive Jerry Yang said in a statement.

Jordan Rohan, founder of digital media advisory firm Clearmeadow Partners, said Yahoo could name Time Warner as a partner or buy AOL to put a positive spin on the situation, but neither option would give as good a payoff to shareholders.

"Yahoo management and board overplayed its hand. Shareholders were cheated out of a victory," Rohan said. "I think Yahoo forgot what it felt like to have a share price under $20. They may be reminded soon."

Ballmer cited Yahoo's Google plans as one reason Microsoft was walking away rather than mounting a hostile offer.

"We regard with particular concern your apparent planning to respond to a 'hostile' bid by pursuing a new arrangement that would involve or lead to the outsourcing to Google of key paid Internet search terms offered by Yahoo today," Ballmer said in a letter to Yang, made public on Saturday. "In our view, such an arrangement with the dominant search provider would make an acquisition of Yahoo undesirable to us."

Microsoft wants to buy Yahoo to gain a stronger foothold in its battle with Google, which is expanding rapidly into the software maker's own turf with new Web-based applications.

Technology analysts say Microsoft may not really walk away from Yahoo, and Saturday's move could parallel Oracle Corp's strategy in winning over BEA Systems Inc. Oracle pulled its offer in October 2007, leading BEA shares to fall 6 percent. Despite the tough talk, the companies reached an agreement in January this year.

Although Microsoft has not succeeded in sealing a deal, tough talk by Ballmer has already brought Yahoo to the negotiating table.

According to a person familiar with Microsoft's thinking, Yahoo's advisers said initially it would not negotiate with Microsoft for anything less than $40 a share. But amid threats by Microsoft to launch a hostile takeover, Yang suggested a price of $38 a share, the person said.

On Saturday, Yang and Yahoo co-founder David Filo met Ballmer and Microsoft's Platforms & Services Division President Kevin Johnson in Seattle, where they communicated that Yahoo's board was willing to cut a deal at $37 a share, although the two co-founders remained committed to a dollar more per share, the source said.

Price was not the only stumbling block, another person familiar with the discussions said. Microsoft had also failed to respond adequately to antitrust regulatory concerns that Yahoo raised at several meetings, said the source who was not authorized to speak on the record.

Yahoo also wanted "value-certainty" assurances the value of Microsoft's offer would remain the same when the deal, if it did get done, closed, the person said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 per annum + commission: SThree: Sthree have an exciting opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £32,000+

£18000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police