With the sands moving swiftly through the hour-glass, we get a one-two punch of sudden interest in the company nobody wanted to dance with: Yahoo is apparently the belle of the ball if you believe the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, both with stories tonight that competing bids will surface Thursday from News Corp. and Time Warner.
Are you kidding me?
I mean, don't get me wrong: I believe the offers will be on the table and that Yahoo will at one time tell us why a stock-swap, MySpace get-together and some cash is such a compelling deal. Or that Time Warner's AOL unit combined with Yahoo will offer true competition on line.
Come on. These convoluted overtures may sound intriguing and may ultimately pay off in some way years, decades or eons down the road.
But as I've written extensively before, none of these offers comes within miles of Microsoft's pre-emptive bid from day one. Microsoft's stock and cash deal is the enriched bird-in-hand deal that makes all others laughable in their attempt to rescue Yahoo from Mr. Softy's clutches.
Bird-in-hand because the deal would be done. And it's a rich one at that. Don't discount the premium Microsoft's already thrown down on the table. And don't underestimate the difficulties of trying to execute the complex integration plans posed by the potential offerings from News Corp. and Time Warner.
Yahoo can blow smoke about its three-year plan to spectacular financial growth, though few experts on Wall Street I'm talking to are buying it. I suspect the reaction will be the same as people start pouring over the details of these late-in-the-game, though hardly game-changing offers.
I'm not surprised additional offers are coming out of the woodwork; I am surprised that they appear to be so weak. Cash in hand versus the potential -- not even the promise -- of a nice return some day down the road.
The News Corp. and Time Warner offers are mere distractions. Experts I'm talking to tonight say Microsoft remains Yahoo's only viable option for the company and its investors.
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