Microsoft/Yahoo Maneuvers: Curiouser and Curiouser

There’s seemingly no end to the improbable machinations swirling around Microsoft’s unsolicited bid for Yahoo. A flurry of late breaking rumors and announcements today conjured up a series of outlandish scenarios, including the combination of Yahoo and AOL’s Internet operations, a possible joint bid for Yahoo by Microsoft and News Corp, and the (confirmed) outsourcing of a portion of Yahoo’s search ads to Google.

The very latest developments, reported by WSJ this evening, are that (1) Yahoo and Time Warner’s AOL are busy “closing in on a deal” to combine their businesses, yet another desperate maneuver to escape Microsoft’s embrace; and (2) Microsoft is in “serious talks” with News Corp. about a plan to combine forces in a bid for Yahoo. No additional details were mentioned about this previously undiscussed scenario.

According to the report, Time Warner would contribute AOL along with a cash investment in exchange for a 20 percent stake in the company. The deal would be contingent on the approval of Yahoo’s shareholders.

The latest rumors come at the end of a frenetic day for Yahoo, which this morning announced the planned acquisition of analytics platform IndexTools and this afternoon reluctantly stated it would conduct a test of Google’s search ads on its own results pages.

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