Yahoo Flirts with Several Suitors, Mainly For Minority Stake

Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) had a busy week entertaining suitors and discussing its options for the future.

After setting a Monday deadline for minority stake proposals  in Yahoo, private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners entered the Yahoo buyout fray on Tuesday, expressing interest to buy the company’s operations in a leveraged buyout. The deal could have a $5 billion to $6 billion value.

THL differentiated itself from the other bidders who had expressed interest in either minority stakes or Asian partnerships.

As expected, a group led by private equity firm Silver Lake and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) also sent a plan outlining up to a 20% stake in the company. This bid added a little bit of fuel to the fire with rumors that the plan would have Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen and venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz playing major roles.

TPG Capital, also a private equity firm, had been rumored to be interested in a minority stake.

Not to be left out, Yahoo also entered the buzz with its own rumors that co-founder and board member Jerry Yang wanted to maintain some control by having Yahoo issue new stock and then sell it to a small group of private equity firms that supported his vision and interests. From the sales, the company would then purchase stock back in the public market.

On Wednesday, the numbers came out and a Bloomberg story disclosed a $16.60 per share bid and a 10-15% stake from Silver Lake and Microsoft with convertible preferred securities. TPG Capital came in higher with a $17.50 per share offer.

As Yahoo’s board was set to meet, one more rumored bid came along with Alibaba and Softbank Corp. supposedly in discussions with Blackstone Group LP (NYSE:BX) and Bain Capital LLC making a bid for Yahoo’s entirety as opposed to a minority stake.

The rumors were slightly squashed after an Alibaba spokesman said, “Alibaba Group has not made a decision to be part of a whole-company bid for Yahoo.”

The week ending without fresh suitor news for Yahoo and the stock closed down 1.11 percent to $16.05 on Friday.