According to yet another unsourced story in "The Wall Street Journal," a Microsoft decision on Yahoo! is "imminent" and could occur as early as today. And in related news, recently revealed court documents show that Microsoft would set aside at least $1.5 billion to retain key Yahoo! employees should the purchase be consummated.
For those not keeping score at home, Microsoft made a hostile, unsolicited $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo! back in February but has been repeatedly rebuked by Yahoo!'s board of directors, who claim that the bid undervalues the company. Weeks ago, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer delivered an ultimatum to the Yahoo! board, giving the company until this past weekend to agree to the purchase. That date came and went without any action from either company.
Conventional wisdom suggests that Microsoft faces two choices: It can simply walk away from Yahoo! and face its online future alone or it can seek to oust the Yahoo! board and replace it with one that is more amenable to a purchase. But a third option has emerged in the middle: Microsoft could nominate a proxy board of directors to replace the current Yahoo! board, but then at least temporarily remove its offer to buy the company, giving shareholders a chance to let their voice be heard. It's possible that a majority would simply prefer a merger with Microsoft anyway.
Meanwhile, in recently revealed court documents, a lawyer representing Yahoo! mentioned that Microsoft had said that it would earmark at least $1.5 billion to retain key Yahoo! employees in the event of a successful purchase of the company. Microsoft had previously said publicly only that it would do everything it could to retain key Yahoo! employees.