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Yahoo's Sue Decker Speaks Out On Microsoft Deal

Tuesday, 6 May 2008 | 11:33 AM ET
Sue Decker, Yahoo President
Sue Decker, Yahoo President

Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang is in the New York Times talking about his "mixed feelings" over the break down in negotiations with Microsoft; but president Sue Decker sat down for an interview with the Yahoo-owned web cast "TechTicker" on Yahoo Finance, and the interview is illuminating.

During the 8-plus minute interview, which you can view here, she confirms that the raised, $33 offer from Microsoft was never officially put in writing, and therefore Yahoo was prevented from sharing that figure with its top institutional investors.

The news confirms CNBC's Sunday report that the increased bid from Microsoft was made informally and was never written down.

In the interview, Decker says, "There was no written offer beyond what we got from their company back in January." She added, "The work our Board did was to go around and talk to shareholders at the price Microsoft offered in writing, which was $31 a share."

She also said "price was not the only factor," adding that the two companies were unable to discuss questions surrounding culture and vision because they couldn't get beyond the price.

These are Decker's first public comments specifically addressing the breakdown in negotiations with Microsoft.

"When you stack up Microsoft's assets and Yahoo's assets, there are certainly some real reasons why the combined company could be really successful," she said. "I don't know if we'll ever know that because we really never got to that point, because there was a broke-down because of price."

In response to Legg Mason supporting a $34 or $35 a share price tag, and other major holders of Yahoo shares roundly criticizing CEO Yang for letting the deal get away, Decker says institutional shareholders only were told of the $31 a share offer because nothing was put in writing about a higher price.

"The sole guiding light in the process was maximizing shareholder value," she said. "It broke down based on price."

Separately, Yahoo has scheduled its highly anticipated annual shareholders meeting for July 3, but the company is still not providing a location. It's at that time that investors will get the chance to vote on Yahoo's entire slate of board of directors. CNBC has reported that some activist shareholders are considering whether to run dissenting slates of their own (see links above).

Questions? Comments? TechCheck@cnbc.com

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