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Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

This Man Wants To Buy Yahoo – But Will The US Government Let Him?

Nicholas Carlson, Business Insider
Photo: Getty Images AsiaPac

Alibaba CEO Jack Ma keeps telling people he wants to buy Yahoo. It makes sense that he would! He probably deserves to run the company, too.

Yahoo's most valuable asset, after all, is its $14 billion minority stake in Alibaba.

Ma says he has the money lined up for an acquisition of the whole company.

Last night, he told AllThingsD's Peter Kafka that he's just waiting for Yahoo's board to give him the green light.

But could Ma actually do it?

Does he actually want to operate Yahoo's American business?

Bill Bishop, a top expert on the Chinese internet industry who writes for DigiCha, says there's no way it happens.

"He won't get past CFIUS (The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States), not in this environment," says Bishop.

He explains:

Yahoo has hundreds of millions of email accounts, billions of pieces of data on US citizens’ Internet browsing activity, and millions of American’s credit card data and payment information. It is hard to see how in the current political environment CFIUS (The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States) and/or Congress would not raise objections to the takeover of an American Internet icon, even a flailing one, by a Chinese firm. Remember, Jack Ma’s excuse for expropriating Alipay was that payment data is a national security issue.

Even if Jack Ma were able to buy Yahoo he would likely face operational challenges beyond fixing the current mess. For example, would most users feel comfortable having their data in the hands of a Chinese company? Competitors would probably relish the opportunity to market against Yahoo’s new overlords.

The more likely outcome is that Alibaba works with Silverlake and other firms in a joint bid that gives Jack Ma the China and perhaps Asia assets but little to no ownership in the US and possibly rest of the world (ROW) entity.

Want to know more? Click here to read Bishop's whole post

This story originally appeared on Business Insider

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