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Yahoo! couldn't! even! strike! deal! with! Yahoo! Japan!

US biz wanted to flog stake in Japanese joint venture

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Yahoo! Japan confirmed today that it held talks on buying the stake Yahoo! Inc owns in the Asian joint venture, but the pair couldn't reach any agreement.

The Japanese web portal's chief financial officer Toshiki Ohya said the door was still open for further negotiations, Reuters reported. Yahoo! Japan was formed in a pact between telco Softbank and Yahoo! Inc in 1996.

Last week, Yahoo! chief exec Scott Thompson said in an earnings call that there would be no deal because Yahoo! Japan wouldn't stump up enough cash for his company's shares in the Asian biz.

"While we plan to continue exploring alternatives to unlock the value of our Yahoo! Japan stake for shareholders, any transaction has to be at a value that makes sense for Yahoo! and its shareholders," he said.

"We currently have a valuation gap with respect to the Yahoo! Japan stake that we have not been able to bridge."

Ohya gave the same sort of careful description of the circumstances today, ensuring no bridges were unnecessarily torched: "We want to positively consider resuming negotiations if the conditions are right," he said.

Yahoo! is looking for ways to make money from its Asian assets in order to throw cash into its troubled US business, which perhaps doesn't put the firm in the strongest of bargaining positions.

Alibaba, the Chinese group Yahoo! holds a stake in, has made no secret of the fact that it wants its shares back. Thompson said last week that talks with Alibaba were "active" but didn't give a lot of details on the prospective deal.

"We are currently exploring a simplified transaction structure, which if executed would provide greater certainty of closing to monetise a portion of our Alibaba stake," he said. ®

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