Alibaba's Ma seeking funds to buy back Yahoo stake

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Alibaba Group, China’s leading e-commerce company, is trying to engineer a management-led buyout of the 40 percent of the company held by Yahoo! Inc, a source with knowledge of the situation said, seeking to end the contentious tie-up as Yahoo itself becomes a takeover target.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma had been talking with private equity companies in an effort to assemble a special-purpose acquisition fund for the express purpose of buying the Yahoo stake, said the source on condition of anonymity.

Yahoo bought the stake in 2005 for about $1 billion, but recent reports said the stake in privately-held Alibaba Group, parent of Hong Kong-listed Ltd could be worth up to $4 billion.

“Jack Ma is keen to get private equity funds involved in the deal, mainly for financing,” said the industry source with knowledge of the negotiations between Jack Ma and potential investors. He declined to be identified because the talks are private.

Alibaba spokesman John Spelich had no comment on the situation.

Reporting by Doug Young and George Chen; Editing by Chris Lewis