The news that Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) would not raise its bid for Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO) came as enough of a surprise that it made the front page of some papers. Microsoft managers "argue that Yahoo’s recent roadshow failed to dazzle investors and nothing in its presentations will justify a higher price," according to The Wall Street Journal. For good reason. The projections were absurd, especially given current economic conditions.
Microsoft understands full well that it has Yahoo! in a corner and that there is no need to be generous. Yahoo!’s shares traded at $19 just two weeks before the buy-out letter. That means if it walks away, its stock could go down by a third. Its board is not going to stand by and be sued by large institutional shareholders.
Yahoo! has shopped itself aggressively to News Corp (NYSE: NWS) and Time Warner (NYSE: TWX). Given that Mr. Murdoch is known as a man who never saw a risk he did not like, the fact that he made no bid speaks volumes.
Yahoo! has run out of options it never had. It should accept the inevitable before all of its key people leave to work at start-ups that might be worth more in a couple of years than they are now. At Yahoo!, that is not going to happen.
Douglas A. McIntyre