Early today, Microsoft announced its bid to acquire Yahoo! for $44.6 billion. The offer amounts to $31 per share, a 62 percent increase over Yahoo’s stock price of $19.18 on Thursday. The proposed deal, as widely reported, signals Microsoft’s intensified aggression against Google, which dominates Internet search with 60 percent of the market, as well as online advertising. The bid, if accepted, would be Microsoft’s priciest acquisition to date.
Can Microsoft and Yahoo’s combined force, which would represent about 30 percent of the Internet search market, effectively rival Google? The answer remains to be seen, of course — besides whether or not Yahoo will accept Microsoft’s bid, there’s the legal question of whether the acquisition would violate antitrust regulations. Most reports, however, suggest the inevitability of this effort. The New York Times outlines Microsoft and Yahoo’s failed discussions of a merger in May, leading to Microsoft’s current “hostile” bid and the possibility of mounting a proxy contest for control of Yahoo’s board.
One immediate effect has already been seen in the stock exchange. Today’s afternoon trading showed an increase of nearly 50 percent in the value of Yahoo’s shares, at about $28.50. On the other hand, the value of Microsoft’s shares declined by 6 percent. Google’s shares showed a similar change, with a 7 percent decline in value.
This short-term effect mirrors long-term possibilities, as contemplated by Tim Weber of BBC News. While Yahoo, which has watched its stock fall and just today appointed a new chairman, Roy Bostock, stands to benefit immensely from Microsoft’s generous resources, this move could represent either Microsoft’s greatest coup or its final hurrah, according to Weber.
“Microsoft knows that its stronghold, the PC business, is getting less and less important,” he writes. “The future of today’s IT industry is the rapidly growing mobile internet space, and Google has made no secret that it is prepared to spend a lot of money to conquer this market.”
The BBC News analysis ends with a flashback to the oft-maligned AOL-Time Warner merger. At The Wall Street Journal’s DealJournal, Dennis Berman explores this angle in depth, echoing a common critique of Microsoft — that it favors acquisition over innovation. In order to succeed against Google, Microsoft and Yahoo will have to prove this assertion false.