In a surprising twist to the never-ending "Microhoo" saga, Microsoft said this week that it would consider buying Yahoo outright again if billionaire investor Carl Icahn is successful in overthrowing Yahoo's current board of directors. This explicit backing of Icahn gives the investor more leverage in his battle with Yahoo's board, which has reacted to each of his pronouncements over the past few months with increasing disdain.
News of Microsoft's change of heart came via a letter from Icahn to Yahoo shareholders. Amazingly, Microsoft corroborated Icahn's account and admitted that it backs his attempts to oust the Yahoo board.
"\[Microsoft CEO\] Steve \[Ballmer\] made it abundantly clear that, due to his experiences with Yahoo during the past several months, he cannot negotiate any transaction with the current board," Icahn's letter reads. "However, Steve made it clear to me that if a new board were elected, he would be interested in discussing a major transaction with Yahoo, such as either a transaction to purchase the 'Search' function with large financial guarantees or, in the alternative, purchasing the whole company."
The Yahoo board reacted with characteristic bluster. "If Microsoft and Mr. Ballmer really want to purchase Yahoo, we again invite them to make a proposal immediately," a Yahoo statement reads. "And if Mr. Icahn has an actual plan for Yahoo beyond hoping that Microsoft might actually consummate a deal which they have repeatedly walked away from, we would be very interested in hearing it."