Investing

Loose Lips Alert: AOL and Private Equity For Yahoo!? (AOL, MSFT, AOL, GOOG, BX, INET)

Loose lips sink ships.  Maybe mergers are not as secretive as discussing military secrets, but the world of M&A and private equity has some new buzz: AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) is considering acquiring Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO).  The same rumor has been out before.  Tonight’s report comes from a Wall Street Journal news flash that AOL and several private equity firms are evaluating the possibilities of such an acquisition.

Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) has taken up all of Yahoo!’s thunder, and the Jerry Yang hatchet job that he pulled by blocking the Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) may have been the dumbest management move of the decade.

Carol Bartz is not likely to just roll over here and take an at-the-money buyout just to show she is the turnaround and exit queen.  The flip-side is that Carol Bartz also knows Yahoo! is not worth $30.00 any longer.

The WSJ threw out Silver Lake and Blackstone Group LP (NYSE: BX) as possible interested parties.  From our point of view, those companies make sense to be in the deal considering the size of the deal that this would imply.  Silver Lake is deep in tech deals and Blackstone has the deep pockets.  What is interesting is that it is implied that a private equity ‘only’ deal could come.

Private equity has another deal pending in the internet space currently, albeit far smaller.  Internet Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ: INET) is in the buyout process currently with Hellman & Friedman paying $13.35 per share if the buyout is approved.

Simply getting the talk out there has driven up the price of poker.  Yahoo! shares closed up 5.7% at $15.25 on news of a new search pact in China and shares are indicated up another 11.2% at $16.95 in late after-hours trading indications.  This information getting leaked was either planned or is yet another example of what happens when too many people are familiar with a situation.

JON C.OGG