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Murdoch's News Corp. Unlikely to be in Yahoo Deal

Friday, 11 Jul 2008 09:25 AM

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SUN VALLEY, Idaho -- News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch said his media conglomerate is ''very unlikely'' to be a part of any deal for Yahoo Inc., scuttling talk that Microsoft Corp. was making headway in enlisting the media mogul as part of a deal to break up the Internet search company.

Murdoch, speaking to reporters Thursday at the annual Allen & Co. retreat for media and Web kingpins, also said he doesn't think Yahoo will wind up in a deal with Microsoft.

''There won't be a deal. There are bad personal feelings,'' he said. ''In six months, Microsoft will walk away.''

Yahoo rejected in May an unsolicited $47.5 billion takeover offer from the world's largest software maker. Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang, who is also at the Sun Valley conference, demanded $37 per share for the company he helped build — a much steeper valuation than the $33 per share bid Microsoft put on the table.

Murdoch said Yahoo's largest shareholder, investor Gordon Crawford of Capital Research Global Investors, was upset that ''he didn't get $33.'' Murdoch made the comment after speaking privately with Crawford in the lobby of the Sun Valley Lodge, where many of the moguls mingle in the evenings.

Asked whether Crawford, whose funds own nearly 10 percent of Yahoo, would still accept an offer at that level, Murdoch said, ''In a flash.''

In recent weeks, Microsoft has indicated it would be willing to return to the table with Yahoo, but Yang has given no indication he would budge from his price. He is trying to fend off a proxy battle with activist investor Carl Icahn, who is seeking to take over the Yahoo board and oust the CEO.

Earlier in the conference, Legg Mason's Bill Miller, whose funds control more than 5 percent of Yahoo, had said Icahn would get more support if he would promise investors not to sell Yahoo for less than $33 per share.

Yang repeatedly refused to comment on Yahoo's ongoing struggles.

Microsoft has reportedly tried to team up with Time Warner Inc. and News Corp. to put together a bid to split off Yahoo's search business and possibly combine News Corp.'s MySpace social-networking site with the rest of Yahoo. Time Warner is trying to find a buyer for its AOL online business.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is attending the conference but has refused to speak to the media.

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