Bloomberg News

Alibaba Hired Lobbyist Duberstein to Aid in Possible Yahoo Deal

January 04, 2012

Dec. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the Chinese e-commerce business partly owned by Yahoo! Inc., hired Washington lobbying firm Duberstein Group Inc. for help in possibly buying out Yahoo’s stake in the company.

Duberstein, founded by Kenneth Duberstein, a former chief of staff under President Ronald Reagan, disclosed its affiliation with Alibaba’s legal representatives in a filing.

Alibaba stepped up efforts to buy back its stake after the September ouster of Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Carol Bartz, who had opposed a sale. Yahoo owns 40 percent of Alibaba, an investment that’s helped maintain the U.S. Internet company’s value even as it loses ground to Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. Yahoo also is considering proposals by private-equity firms seeking to buy minority stakes.

As China’s biggest e-commerce company, Alibaba has given Yahoo a foothold in a faster-growing market. It acquired the stake in Hangzhou, China-based Alibaba for about $1 billion in 2005.

Yahoo has considered offers for a minority stake from bidders such as TPG Capital and a group led by Silver Lake, people familiar with the matter have said. Silver Lake’s bid valued Yahoo at about $16.60 a share, these people said. TPG Capital’s offer was higher, they said.

Huawei’s Example

Alibaba’s involvement in any deal may draw scrutiny from the U.S. government, especially because Yahoo handles online communications for millions of Americans.

In 2008, China’s Huawei Technologies Co. dropped a bid for Marlborough, Massachusetts-based computer-equipment maker 3Com Corp. after the U.S. government began investigating whether a deal would give China access to technology used by the Defense Department.

John Spelich, an Alibaba spokesman, declined to comment. Dana Lengkeek, a spokeswoman for Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo, didn’t respond to messages seeking comment. The Duberstein Group said it doesn’t comment on its clients.

Yahoo shares rose 2.6 percent to $16.19 at 2:25 p.m. in New York. The stock had declined 5.1 percent this year before today.

Alibaba hiring Duberstein was previously reported by Reuters.

--With assistance from Kristin Jensen in Washington. Editors: Nick Turner, John Lear

To contact the reporter on this story: Ian King in San Francisco at ianking@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net


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