Microsoft Corporation has proposed buying Yahoo Inc's search business and take a minority stake in what remains of the internet pioneer, media reports said.
Under the proposal, Yahoo would sell its Asian assets, including significant minority stakes in Yahoo Japan and China's Alibaba Group, while Microsoft would buy a chunk of what remains of the company, reports quoted sources close to the development as saying.
Microsoft, which announced a resumption of efforts to team up with Yahoo, said the new proposal was not aimed at a take-over, is unlikely to find favour with the Yahoo board.(See:Microsoft returns with alternative offer for Yahoo!)
Earlier in February, Microsoft had offered to acquire Yahoo for $47.5 billion, or $33 per share, (See:Microsoft makes $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo!) but Yahoo rebuffed the offer, saying it would only settle for $37 a share.
An acquisition of Yahoo search engine would give Microsoft an alternative means of competing with rival advertising powerhouse Google Inc
The proposal is only at a preliminary stage and Microsoft has not yet put a value on Yahoo's search business.
Microsoft merely said it was talking with Yahoo about an alternative transaction but did not say if it was willing sweeten the earlier offer.
Yahoo is a distant second to Google Inc in internet search business in the United States, and Microsoft is third.
Combined, Yahoo and Microsoft would have around a 30-per cent US share, compared with Google's roughly 60 per cent. Globally, Google has an even larger share of the internet search business.
The new Microsoft proposal is likely to complicate ongoing discussions between Yahoo and Google on a possible search advertising partnership.
Meanwhile, investor activist Carl Icahn announced a proxy fight last week to force Yahoo reopen talks with Microsoft. Icahn, who owns nearly 10 million shares in yahoo as well as options to acquire another 49 million shares, formally filed the preliminary proxy to nominate 10 directors to Yahoo's board.
In a statement late on Sunday, Yahoo said its board was exploring several "value maximising" alternatives and "remain open to pursuing any transaction which is in the best interest of our stockholders."