updated 11:45 am EDT, Sat October 22, 2011
Google may help pay for but not buy Yahoo
Google might be backing a third-party buyout of Yahoo. A source talking to the Wall Street Journal had Google in early talks where it would help fund two or more private equity firms that would buy Yahoo's main business. No formal plan had been outlined, and it wasn't clear if it would go ahead.
Google might run ads on Yahoo's websites, extra tips claimed, but whether that would be part of the bargain for the deal or just an independent request wasn't apparent.
Microsoft, despite conflicting rumors, was also reportedly backing another private equity bid.
Google getting involved as a proxy would be aggressive and also carry risk. The firm is already being investigated by the FTC over possible antitrust abuse by favoring its own data in searches and discouraging or blocking non-Google search on Android. The company has testified to the Senate claiming a neutral stance, but funding a buyout of Yahoo would raise suspicions of an attempt to bring a struggling rival down or prime it for a takeover.
Yahoo has recently said there was no guarantee it would sell itself off, but it's believed to have almost immediately started entertaining the prospects of selling some or all of Yahoo after firing Carol Bartz.