Today, my compadres at Reuters are reporting that an unnamed PE firm has approached Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, to see if he’ll join it in its bid for Yahoo! Ma hasn’t made any decision, the story says.
Ma is also trying to raise funds to buy out Yahoo!’s 40% stake in Alibaba, in a separate story from Reuters. Ma is talking to PE firms to assemble a special purpose acquisition fund to buy the Yahoo! stake.
The New York Post is also reporting that KKR is one of the PE firms interested in taking Yahoo! private. KKR’s interest is separate from the other PE firms interested in Yahoo! Silver Lake and the Blackstone Group were reportedly interested in the Internet pioneer a month ago.
The current reports caused Yahoo!’s stock to surge more than 5% today to $17.32 in mid-day trading.
All the talk may force Yahoo! “to the table if they get a proposal,” one PE executive tells me. Yahoo! has tapped Goldman Sachs to field any proposals, according to story from a month ago. AOL has hired BofA to explore strategic options, including a deal for Yahoo!.
However, I’m still not convinced there’s anything substantial going on, and it does seems like a lot of talk generated by bankers. Kara Swisher over at All Things Digital says it best about the current intrigue: “Or, in the case of the incessant corporate drama around Yahoo: If wishes were deals, all bankers would get big fat fees.”