Alibaba To Reach Out To Yahoo CEO On Stalled Deal

Published February 15, 2012 7:27AM (EST)

HONG KONG (AP) — Alibaba Group and Japan's Softbank will go directly to Yahoo's chief executive, bypassing negotiators from the U.S. Internet company, after talks over the sale of Yahoo's Asian holdings broke down, a person familiar with the negotiations said Wednesday.

The struggling Internet company has been in discussions to sell its stakes in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group and Yahoo Japan back to Alibaba and Yahoo Japan shareholder Softbank Corp.

But the person, who declined to be identified because the talks are confidential, said that Softbank and Alibaba will go directly to Yahoo Inc. CEO Scott Thompson for more clarity after talks broke down over the terms. The person said Yahoo's negotiating team seemed to have different ideas from the company's leaders.

"Softbank and Alibaba will be reaching out to Scott Thompson to get clarity on what the heck is going on," the person said.

The fate of the Yahoo's Asian holdings remains in limbo after negotiations over the stakes abruptly broke off. It's the latest twist in the drama that has been swirling around Yahoo Inc. since it fired Carol Bartz as CEO five months ago.

The person said the talks broke down over unreasonable terms but wouldn't specify what that meant, except to say that it wasn't over price.

"The strategic leaders were saying 'We want to unlock some value here so we can free up some cash and focus on the core," said the person. "Based on the behavior of the most recent negotiation session (in Hong Kong), it was clear that somebody else had a different idea."

On Tuesday, two other people familiar with the talks said they stalled over the price.

Analysts have differed on how much Yahoo could fetch from selling its stakes, with estimates ranging from $11 billion to $18 billion.

By Salon Staff

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