Duh! Yahoo CFO a No-Show

In the face of Microsoft's $44-billion hostile bid, search-firm finance chief Jorgensen cancels his talk at an investor conference. Google looks fo...
Stephen TaubFebruary 6, 2008

Yahoo Inc. CFO Blake Jorgensen cancelled today’s presentation at a Thomas Weisel Partners technology investor conference in San Francisco, as the search-engine company desperately sought ways to counter Microsoft’s $44-billion hostile offer for it.

Jorgensen’s decision not to appear was attributed by Reuters to a Yahoo spokeswoman. Officially, Yahoo has said its board is “thoroughly evaluating” the offer, revealed on Friday.

The Jorgensen talk would have marked the first public appearance of a Yahoo executive since then.

Meanwhile, Microsoft was turning up the heat on its target to accept the $31-a-share offer, while Yahoo arch-rival Google heatedly pursued strategies for blocking any potential Microsoft-Yahoo deal.

According to InformationWeek, Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell on Monday said his company would borrow cash for the first time to fund its bid. The cash portion of the offer is reported to be more than $20 billiont

According to that report, Liddell said that Microsoft could cover that sum with existing cash, but preferred to use external funding for a portion of its purchase. In the most recent quarter, Microsoft had $7.5 billion in cash and cash equivalents, and $13.6 billion in short term investments.

“We could fund most of that through our cash holdings, but it’s likely we’re actually going to borrow for the first time,” Liddell reportedly told financial analysts. “It will be a mixture of the cash on hand, plus debt.”

Last year, Microsoft used up $6 billion to acquire digital advertising agency aQuantive in an all-cash deal.

“We’re trying to increase scale and increase capacity to give ourselves a better chance to be more successful more quickly,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said at the analyst meeting, according to Reuters.

For Google’s part, it called on regulators to investigate whether a combined Microsoft-Yahoo would destroy competition, stifle Internet innovation and shrink consumer choice, according to the Washington Post.

“Microsoft has frequently sought to establish proprietary monopolies — and then leverage its dominance into new, adjacent markets,” David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, warned in a statement released on Sunday. “Could the acquisition of Yahoo! allow Microsoft — despite its legacy of serious legal and regulatory offenses — to extend unfair practices from browsers and operation systems to the Internet?”

He said that he feared a completion of the deal would create a company exerting an overwhelming share of instant messaging and web email accounts. “Could a combination of the two take advantage of a PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors’ email, IM, and web-based services?” Drummond asked in the statement. “Policymakers around the world need to ask these questions — and consumers deserve satisfying answers.”

Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said in a statement issued Sunday that a combination with Yahoo “will create a more competitive marketplace by establishing a compelling number two competitor for Internet search and online advertising. The alternative scenarios only lead to less competition on the Internet.”

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