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Alibaba! and! friends! offer! to! swallow! Yahoo! whole!

Group mulls bid of $25bn for the entire company

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China's Alibaba Group is mulling over a total slurp of Yahoo! for about $25bn, along with private equity partners and Japanese mobile carrier Softbank.

Those chatty sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that the group – which would also include Bain Capital and Blackstone Group – had not finalised its bid yet.

Jack Ma, boss at ecommerce giant Alibaba, has been interested in Yahoo! from the start, not least because it means he'll buy back the 40 per cent stake that the US web firm holds in his company.

"We are probably one of the very few companies that really understand Yahoo USA very well," he said, back in October. "We are very, very interested."

The wheeling and dealing for Yahoo! is definitely hotting up, with two offers for a minority stake in the company yesterday, one from a group that included Microsoft and the other from private equity outfit TPG Capital.

Going for a minority stake deal instead of selling off the whole company has its advantages for the board because as long as the stake is under 20 per cent, they don't need to get approval from the shareholders.

As Yahoo!'s fortunes have dwindled, so has the patience of investors, who have been very vocal in past months about what they consider bad management. ®

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