Microsoft Corp. has pounced on slumping Internet icon Yahoo Inc. with an unsolicited takeover offer of $44.6 billion in its boldest bid yet to challenge Google Inc.’s dominance of the lucrative online search and advertising markets, The Associated Press reports.
The surprise offer of $31 per share, made late Thursday and announced today, comes with Sunnyvale-based Yahoo in a vulnerable position.
In a statement Friday, Yahoo said it will “carefully and promptly” study Microsoft’s bid.
With its profits steadily sliding, Yahoo’s stock slipped to a four-year low earlier this week and a new management team has been trying to steer a turnaround but sees more turbulence through 2008.
The announcement sent Yahoo’s share price up 60 percent in premarket trading, while Google fell 8 percent, weighted down by a fourth-quarter earnings report that missed Wall Street expectations.
In a letter to Yahoo’s board of directors, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer indicated the world’s largest software maker is determined to bring the two companies together.
To underscore its resolve, Microsoft is offering a 62 percent premium to Yahoo’s closing stock price Thursday.
Since reaching a 52-week high of $34.08 in October, Yahoo shares have fallen 46 percent. Yahoo climbed $10.40 a share, or 54 percent, to $29.58 in premarket trading. Microsoft shares fell $1.40, or 4.3 percent, to $31.20.
Ballmer revealed in the letter that Yahoo had rebuffed a previous overture a year ago, saying it had a turnaround in the works. But he pointedly noted Yahoo has instead deteriorated significantly.
“A year has gone by, and the competitive situation has not improved,” Ballmer added.
Microsoft’s previous offer was rebuffed by Terry Semel, who stepped aside last year as chief executive under shareholder pressure.