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Microsoft said on Sunday it has proposed an alternative deal to Yahoo, rather than a full acquisition, in a move that could save the Web pioneer from fighting a proxy battle with financier Carl Icahn.
"Microsoft is considering and has raised with Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) an alternative that would involve a transaction with Yahoo but not an acquisition of all of Yahoo," the company said in a statement without clarifying what that alternative might be.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) emphasized it was not proposing to make a new bid to buy all of Yahoo "but reserves the right to reconsider that alternative" depending on discussions with Yahoo, shareholders of Yahoo or Microsoft, or other third parties.
The New York Times reported that Microsoft and Yahoo may form a partnership or joint venture for search-related advertising to take on Google, which dominates the search market with a share significantly larger than a combined Yahoo and Microsoft.
For its part, Yahoo continues to talk with Google about a search advertising partnership and a deal could come as early as this week, a source familiar with the talks said on Thursday.
The statement from Microsoft comes on the heels of a proxy campaign launched on Thursday by Icahn to replace Yahoo's board with directors who would reopen talks with Microsoft, saying Yahoo had acted irrationally in refusing the giant software company's $47.5 billion bid.