China's Alibaba Group is looking for investors to buy Yahoo's 39 per cent stake in the Internet company, according to the Reuters news service.
According to Reuters, a person with direct knowledge of the situation outlined a plan intended to keep Microsoft from getting the Alibaba stock owned by Yahoo.
The source told Reuters that Alibaba is making the move because it believes Microsoft is likely to win its US$42.4 billion takeover battle to buy Yahoo. And if that happens, Alibaba would prefer increased independence, the person told Reuters.
Yahoo said it had no comment on the Alibaba talks and Microsoft could not be reached for comment. Alibaba also could not be reached for comment.
According to Reuters, Alibaba feels that the agreement it signed with Yahoo in 2005 gives it a "right of first offer" to buy Yahoo's stake, a clause that would be invoked if Microsoft buys Yahoo. Under the deal, Yahoo merged its Chinese operations into Alibaba in exchange for the 39 per cent stake in Alibaba Group.
Another source told the news agency that Yahoo's top three executives, CEO Jerry Yang, President Susan Decker and CFO Blake Jorgensen, are meeting with major US institutional investors to garner support for its position that the Microsoft offer undervalues the company.