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Microsoft's Yahoo! marriage skips China

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Microsoft and Yahoo!'s search engine marriage will not include a Chinese honeymoon due to Yahoo!'s existing nuptials with the e-commerce giant, Alibaba Group.

Despite calling the duo's new search and advertising tie-in a "global deal," Microsoft must in fact overlook the country with roughly 20 per cent of the world's population.

That's because Yahoo! China doesn't really belong to Yahoo!. Back in 2005, Yahoo! pawned its China business to Alibaba.com in return for a 40 per cent share in the company and 35 per cent voting rights.

And while the deal made Yahoo!'s bottom line firmer and more attractive to Microsoft, the property is hands-off when the deal closes.

"We own and operate Yahoo! China separately from what's done in the US, so we're not impacted at all by the Microsoft/Yahoo deal," an Alibaba spokeswoman told El Reg.

The world has questioned what happens to all of Yahoo!'s search technology and coders after Microsoft takes over the biz. How about sending them to the last known remaining Yahoo algorithm refugee camp?

At the moment it's not clear if Microsoft has any intentions of wooing Alibaba with a separate pact for Yahoo! China. In the deal's announcement, Microsoft stated that Yahoo! will "continue to syndicate its existing search affiliate partnerships" — which may mean the company is fine leaving well enough alone.

In truth, Yahoo! China controls an extremely small per cent of the regional search market compared to Google China and Baidu. But Microsoft has an even smaller stake. Perhaps it's only a matter of time before there's no place safe for Yahoo! search code. ®

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