Yang says Yahoo is still best option for Microsoft

SAN FRANCISCO Thu Nov 6, 2008 1:26pm EST

Jerry Yang, the chief executive officer of Yahoo! Inc waves at photographers as he arrives at the 26th annual Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley, Idaho July 11, 2008. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Jerry Yang, the chief executive officer of Yahoo! Inc waves at photographers as he arrives at the 26th annual Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley, Idaho July 11, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - After nearly a year spent seeking alternatives to Microsoft Corp's buyout offer, Yahoo Inc's Chief Executive Jerry Yang said he believes a deal between the two is still the best option for the software company.

"To this day, I would say the best thing for Microsoft is to buy Yahoo," Yang said."

Speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit hours after archrival Google Inc ditched its search advertising partnership with Yahoo, Yang said he remains open to selling the Internet company to Microsoft, but at the right price.

"People who know me know I don't have an ego about remaining independent versus not remaining independent," the embattled executive told the gathering.

Yang also said he remains "open-minded" about selling Yahoo's search business to Microsoft, but noted that there was no "new news" on talks between the two companies.

Microsoft had offered to buy Yahoo's search business after withdrawing an offer for the whole company in May.

Yahoo shares surged on Wednesday after a rumor posted on a blog said Yahoo and Microsoft were in advanced talks to sell the company for between $17 and $19 a share. The blog also reported that Yang would step down from his CEO position.

Yahoo officials later said the report was untrue.

Yahoo's stock price is currently trading far below the $31-a-share Microsoft originally offered, and the company has come under severe criticism from investors for turning down the software giant's offer.

Yang also declined to comment on Yahoo's discussions with Time Warner Inc about buying its AOL division, which sources have told Reuters are ongoing.

Instead, the Yahoo co-founder spelled out his vision for the company, which includes becoming a one-stop consumer brand that lets people access what they want on the Internet.

Yang also said he was disappointed at Google's decision to walk away from the search pact. The two companies signed the deal in June when Yahoo was looking for ways to build an independent growth strategy.

The search deal was expected to add $800 million in annual revenue for Yahoo.

But Google, concerned that the U.S. Department of Justice would block the agreement on antitrust grounds, decided to withdraw from the partnership on Wednesday.

Responding to a question about whether he had any regrets about stepping into the CEO role last year, Yang said: "I don't regret a moment of what happened even though it's not been the most fun thing."

(Editing by Bernard Orr)

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