Yahoo, Alibaba make progress in dispute talks

Reuters News
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Posted: May 25, 2011 1:04 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Yahoo Inc and Alibaba Group have made significant progress in resolving a "complex" dispute over the Chinese company's transfer of a valuable Internet asset to an external owner.

Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang and Chief Financial Officer Tim Morse flew to Asia last week to engage Alibaba and investor Softbank about the issue, though Chief Executive Officer Carol Bartz admitted the situation was complex.

"There're a lot of moving parts but we're making progress," Bartz told investors at an annual analysts' meeting on Wednesday.

"We're not going to get into a public back and forth."

In recent months, investor attention has been squarely focused on Yahoo's Asian assets, which include a 43 percent stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and a 35 percent stake in Yahoo Japan Corp. Some investors believe those assets may comprise Yahoo's entire current market value.

Its shares have fallen roughly 12 percent since early May, when the company disclosed that Alibaba had transferred its popular online payment subsidiary Alipay to a separate entity, potentially diminishing the value of Yahoo's stake in Alibaba.

On Wednesday, the stock rose as much as 5.3 percent but later retraced its steps and was up 0.5 percent at $16.22 in late morning trading.

(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic and Edwin Chan, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)