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Yahoo! has told its long-suffering investors that it is still in discussions with Alibaba over the fate of its payment business Alipay.

Its stake in Alibaba - a leading Chinese ecommerce business - is seen as one of the better reasons to own Yahoo! shares. But relations between the two seem to be under strain.

Alibaba span off its payment division Alipay in August last year, but it was only last week that Yahoo! appeared to notice. It said the transaction had occurred without "the knowledge or approval of the Alibaba Group board of directors or shareholders".

Alibaba disputes this, insisting the move was first discussed at a board meeting in 2009, the BBC reports.

Yahoo! insists the battle is not over. It said:

Yahoo! continues to work closely with Alibaba and Softbank to protect economic value for all interested parties.

We believe ongoing negotiations among all of the parties provide the best opportunity to achieve an outcome in the best interest of all stakeholders.

Alibaba is a sort of eBay for small businesses looking to get stuff made in China. It also runs domestic Chinese and Japanese services. Its $26bn IPO in 2007 was the largest tech float since Google's. ®

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