Speculation is mounting over the future of Internet giant Yahoo after Alibaba CEO Jack Ma expressed a desire to buy the company, which currently owns a 40% share in Alibaba. From Reuters:
Asked whether Alibaba might like to pick up the ailing U.S. Internet company, Ma told an audience at Stanford University that he would be “very interested in Yahoo.”
The former English schoolteacher later added that, were he to have his way, he would be eager to acquire all of Yahoo, not just the stake it owns in Alibaba.
“The whole piece of Yahoo,” Ma said in answer to a question from the audience about what part of Yahoo he was interested in. “China is already ours, right? It’s already in my pocket.”
Yahoo shares leaped 5 percent to $13.80 in after-hours trading.
Cnet looks at Yahoo’s history with China to ask what impact such a takeover might have:
Alibaba’s interest is an intriguing turn of events. Yahoo acquired a 40 percent stake in Alibaba several years ago, and that investment may now be worth up to a third of Yahoo’s total value. Ma has repeatedly pressured Yahoo’s board to sell that stake back to him but has so far been rebuffed. But Yahoo’s board, while searching for a replacement for recently fired Chief Executive Carol Bartz and looking at the proverbial “strategic alternatives,” may be more agreeable to a range of options right now.
Yahoo’s problems in China are well documented. Four years ago, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang was roundly criticized in congressional hearings for the role his company played in the jailing of a Chinese human rights activist.
“Look into your own soul, and see the damage you have done to an innocent human being and his family,” Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) said at the hearing. “It will make no difference to the committee what you do, but it will make you better human beings, if you recognize your own responsibility for the enormous damage your policies have created.”
That Yahoo could end up being acquired by a Chinese company could ring alarm bells with human rights advocates and even lawmakers with long memories.