NEW YORK (Reuters) - Google Inc. (GOOG.O) has emerged along with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT.O) as a contender to buy DoubleClick Inc., presenting competition that stands to increase the final sale price of the online-advertising company, people familiar with the situation said in The Wall Street Journal.
Microsoft has appeared less likely to win the bidding as the potential price for the company surpassed $2 billion, people familiar with the situation said in the Journal.
Yahoo Inc. YHOO.O and Time Warner Inc.’s TWX.N AOL online unit also have talked to DoubleClick — which is majority-owned by San Francisco private-equity firm Hellman & Friedman — though it is unclear whether AOL is still in the race, these people said in the Journal.
DoubleClick is using investment bank Morgan Stanley to help explore its options, including a possible stock market listing, the Journal reported last week. Hellman & Freidman has reportedly set a price tag of at least $2 billion for the advertising company.
Such a price tag could amount to a hefty return for the private equity firm, which took DoubleClick private in mid-2005 in a deal worth $1.1 billion.
Representatives from Google were not immediately available for comment.