Yahoo! re-opens talks about acquiring AOL

24 Sep 2008

Internet stalwart Yahoo! – itself the subject of a possible takeover battle earlier in the year – has re-opened talks with Time Warner about possibly acquiring the ailing AOL internet business.

AOL – once one of the doyens of the internet business – faces a bleak future as Time Warner plans to split up its media and access group, and there has been speculation that it may ditch AOL.

Earlier talks between Yahoo! and Time Warner suggested that the latter company might buy AOL or sell the internet business to Yahoo!

The Yahoo! board’s fumbling over Microsoft’s attempts to buy the business led to widespread shareholder disapproval. A vote of no confidence, led by veteran corporate raider Carl Icahn, resulted in the board admitting Icahn and a number of other members.

The newly assembled Yahoo! board could either buy the AOL business and transition it towards boosting its content play, or a possible acquisition by Time Warner could give shareholders the return they desire since the US$47.5bn bid by Microsoft was allowed to flounder and die.

The question is could Time Warner have the means to stump up a similar bid for Yahoo!, or will Yahoo! merely take on a failing business?

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years