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Yahoo CFO says not opposed to search sale
SAN FRANCISCO |
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Internet firm Yahoo Inc (YHOO.O) is "not opposed" to doing a deal that would potentially sell its search business, Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen said on Wednesday.
But he said the search business is deeply intertwined with Yahoo's other online products and properties, and so any deal, whether a partnership or a sale, would be done for the right reasons and the right economics.
"It's extremely difficult to draw a line down the middle of the organization and split it into two pieces," Jorgensen told the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet conference.
He did not mention specifically Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), which has repeatedly said it was interested in doing a search deal with Yahoo to compete against market leader Google Inc.
Collins Stewart analyst Sandeep Aggarwal said these comments are signs the language between Yahoo and Microsoft is becoming softer, suggesting the companies could be entering a "more polite negotiation phase."
"The posturing is suggesting more and more likelihood of a Microsoft, Yahoo deal," said Aggarwal, who rates Yahoo a "buy" and whose firm makes a market in Yahoo shares.
Yahoo had rebuffed a $47.5 billion acquisition bid from Microsoft last year, and saw a deal to form a search advertising partnership with Google fall apart amid antitrust concerns.
Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz has said she did not join the company in January to sell it, nor did she have a preconceived notion of doing a search deal, but that "everything is on the table.
Shares of Yahoo were up 2 percent, or 28 cents, at $12.76 in after-market trade, after closing down 27 cents in the Nasdaq session.
The Internet company is widely expected to announce soon a major corporate reorganization under Bartz.
Jorgensen appeared with Yahoo's U.S. Executive Vice President Hilary Schneider at the Goldman conference. They did not provide any update to Yahoo's financial outlook.
Last month, the company forecast sales in the current quarter would decline between 5 percent and 16 percent year-over-year to between $1.525 billion and $1.725 billion.
Jorgensen said advertisers are "in shock" at the moment because of the economy, but cited the superior return on investment that advertisers get with Yahoo compared with traditional marketing mediums.
And while Yahoo has not experienced any delays collecting payments from customers, Jorgensen said the company is paying close attention to its receivables.
He also said the company would eventually "rethink" its share repurchasing program, which has been on hold since last year, though he gave no specific timeline for when buybacks might resume.
Asked about changes within the company under Bartz, Schneider said there is "a new sheriff in town," whose top priority is improving the customer experience.
"She doesn't suffer fools," Schneider said. "So stupid questions don't go very far."
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Gary Hill)
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