Microsoft is more seriously considering the possibility of withdrawing its bid for Yahoo if it can't come to a mutual agreement by this weekend, the company's finance chief Chris Liddell said late yesterday during a conference call discussing the company's latest quarterly results. Liddell reiterates that Microsoft will change its plans by this weekend but echoes recent statements by CEO Steve Ballmer that a proxy war to oust anti-takeover members of Yahoo's board is no longer the only option. Microsoft is ready to retract its bid and "focus on other opportunities," Liddell explains, including either acquisitions of other companies or else building up Microsoft's existing web ad and search businesses.
The financial executive also hints that the company has considered lowering its bid for Yahoo, rebutting Yahoo assertions that the $31 per share offer undervalues the search engine developer's worth. "In fact, we see the opposite," he says.
The statements nonetheless reveal a softening of Microsoft's stance. The company has often portrayed its takeover of Yahoo as necessary for defeating Google in the web ad space, where both Microsoft and Yahoo command only a small amount of marketshare. Yahoo has meanwhile denied such claims and recently conducted a Google AdSense trial both to deter Microsoft and to explore the effect of siding with Google rather than a direct competition.