Yahoo TechTicker host and colleague Sarah Lacy confirms our view that the Yahoo-News Corp discussions are just a smokescreen. Microsoft will jack its bid to $35 within 10 days, Sarah says, and is so confident that the offer will be accepted that it's already drawing up the paperwork:
Sorry, Yahoos, the deal with News Corp isn't happening. According to my sources, talk of the talks has been way overblown. Just as Henry Blodget and Aaron Task said this morning, it's a Yahoo negotiating tactic. On the eve of Microsoft's offer, two different private equity groups were preparing their own Yahoo bids and at least one offered its services to News Corp. Murdoch's people said he “wasn't interested.”
Separately, another source tells me that Microsoft is so confident it's nearing a price that Yahoo's largest shareholders want -- and Yahoo can't refuse -- that it has already started the regulatory paperwork. This source expects a deal in the $35-per-share range within the next 10 days. Once Steve Ballmer gets the largest institutions on board, all the News Corps in the world can't save Yahoo. It's a volatile market, and Wall Street money managers aren't going to let go of a guaranteed return.
We're a bit more skeptical of that $35 than Sarah's source is, given that the deal momentum is shifting back to Microsoft. We also think the News Corp deal is a bad deal for Yahoo, though. TechTicker hosts Henry Blodget and Aaron Task peed on it this morning: