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Yahoo! says all options open amid Alibaba reports

business Updated: Oct 20, 2011 08:51 IST
Yahoo! chief

Yahoo! chief Jerry Yang on Thursday left all options on the table for achieving better value for shareholders, amid reports Chinese company Alibaba has set aside $20 billion to buy the US digital giant.

Asked at a technology conference in Hong Kong whether an Alibaba takeover might be the best option for Yahoo!, Yang said the board had ruled nothing in or out.

"If we look at this whole thing ... there are many ways to create value and so far we have not ruled out any possibilities," he told the Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital conference.

"I've seen the company grow from zero to where we are now and I can honestly say that the true ambition for me is to see Yahoo! achieve the potential that it is able to achieve."

Alibaba chief Jack Ma, one of China's most successful tech entrepreneurs, on Monday reportedly said he was in a position to buy Yahoo! in what would be a startling play by a Chinese firm for an established US tech major.

"Do you know how much it will cost to acquire Yahoo? It needs $20 billion, based on the company's valuation today. ... We have the most cash reserves among Internet companies, and we have already prepared $20 billion," Ma said, according to iChinaStock News.

Yahoo! owns 40 percent of Alibaba but the Chinese firm reportedly feels it has outgrown its US partner, which has been the centre of takeover speculation for some time.

The relationship between the two companies was strained earlier this year in a dispute over Alibaba's online payments platform Alipay.

Yang and Ma are said to be good friends but the Yahoo! co-founder dodged questions about Ma's intentions.

"You'd have to ask him," he said.

He said the Yahoo! board was trying to foster a better "environment" of innovation at the troubled company, and was looking at many options to maximize shareholder value.

"Everywhere I go inside Yahoo! there's a yearning to change the way we build our products," he said.

"We look at this whole thing and say we have many ways to create that environment."