Yahoo may be ripe for an activist play that forces the company to explore strategic alternatives.
While it still remains in the realm of the speculative, bankers, activist investors and media executives have told CNBC that Yahoo may be pushed to explore alternatives, and if that were to occur, the belief is that Yahoo would find interested parties in News Corp., AT&T, TimeWarner's AOL, Microsoft and Comcast.
In fact, one idea that News Corp. has been studying, according to sources, would involve the sale of its MySpace division to Yahoo for a significant stake in the company.
Bankers believe MySpace could be worth as much as $10 billion in such a deal, meaning News Corp. might be able to have as much as a 25% stake in Yahoo. The deal, which again is in its early stages, would also involve Yahoo outsourcing its search to Google, which currently plays that role for MySpace. News Corp. officials declined comment and its unclear whether News Corp has yet to broach the idea with Yahoo.
A similar idea has come up in meetings investors have had recently with TimeWarner CEO Dick Parsons. Parsons has responded to speculative questions about an AOL/Yahoo linkup by saying such a combination could make sense, whereby search was taken over by Google, for a significant fee and Panama sold to Microsoft.
A TimeWarner spokesman offered no comment on potential dealmaking and said the company remains committed to AOL.
Beyond News Crop and AOL, there is also continued interest from Microsoft and the possibility that companies such as AT&T and even Comcast would be inclined to look at a Yahoo deal should the company explore such options.
All of this, of course, is speculative. But Allen & Co.'s Sun Valley conference is coming up soon and given the CEOs of virtually all these companies will be in attendance, a Yahoo deal might be a topic for discussion.
And finally, there is the distinct possibility that large activist shareholders get loud. As one of them said to CNBC on Friday: "If it's not us, someone will put their fee to the fire."