Alibaba chair delivers Yahoo! ultimatum

Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma has delivered an ultimatum to Yahoo!. The head of the Chinese online retail giant says he expects an answer from once-dominant US tech firm within weeks to his offer to buy all or part of it. Delays, he added, were hurting both firms.

The Chinese entrepreneur denied having a US$20-billion war chest ready for the ailing Yahoo! He added, however that money would not be the biggest obstacle to what would be a milestone takeover of a US tech giant by a Chinese firm.

“Finance is never a problem. Today the market is not good but the money is there. The problem is what they (Yahoo!) want to do,” Ma told the All Things Digital AsiaD technology conference in Hong Kong.

Ma expressed particular frustration at the length of time the Yahoo! board was taking to respond to Alibaba’s widely publicised expressions of interest.

“We still have not changed our mind and we keep our strong interest in Yahoo!. We are waiting for the Yahoo! board and especially the independent directors to tell us exactly what they want,” he said.

“If their board is saying all of Yahoo!, I’m interested. If it’s just a piece, I’m interested. Just let us know,” he said, adding that he was hoping for an answer from Yahoo! in the “next few weeks”.

“Time is so precious for all of us, it’s no good for Yahoo!, it’s not good for everybody (to delay),” he added.

Alibaba is 43% owned by Yahoo! but the Chinese online retail giant reportedly feels it has outgrown its US partner.

Although Alibaba is considered one of Yahoo!’s best assets, relations between the two companies soured earlier this year following a dispute over Alibaba’s online payments platform Alipay.

Speaking at the same conference, Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang continued to dodge questions about Yahoo!’s intended response to Ma’s offers.

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

“There are many ways to create value and so far we have not ruled out any possibilities,” he told the conference, which is sponsored by the Wall Street Journal.

Yang focused instead on the direction Yahoo! intends taking in the future, saying that the tech giant’s board was trying to foster a better “environment” of innovation.

“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.”

“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.”



Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Memeburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.