The Chinese want to buy Yahoo!
Alibaba Group, the Hangzhou-based computer company, has retained former Reagan administration Secretary of Staff Kenneth Duberstein’s lobbying firm, Duberstein Group Inc., to help ink out a deal between the Chinese e-commerce corporation and the search engine giants.
Silicon Valley’s Yahoo! owns a 40 percent stake in Alibaba, but the Chinese firm’s CEO, Jack Ma, has discussed not just buying out their stake but absorbing Yahoo! as a whole. Earlier this month, Ma told Bloomberg News that talks of a deal had been put on hold due to “political issues,” but by putting a former White House insider inside the discussions, tensions could be smoothed between the two sides to enough of a point to sign the papers.
"The national security concern is sometimes just an excuse for commercial concerns for any country, but certainly for the United States," Mark Natkin, managing director of Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting, tells Reuters. "I don't think there should be a big concern (for Alibaba buying Yahoo). Users may share or keep as much data as they like.
"If they subscribe to Yahoo and (they know) Yahoo is owned by a Chinese company, they are going to have to make the decision themselves," Natkin adds.
Washington’s relationship with Beijing has been on better terms in the past than it has in recent months, so the move to install Duberstein into the equation could certainly be considered a smart move to make the deal, which is estimated to come at a cost of around $18 billion. The Financial Times reports that major Chinese tech companies have tried to absorb American IT corporations in the past, only to be blocked. Duberstein’s pull in Washington could make this deal a done one in a matter of weeks, however.
Duberstein’s other clients include Goldman Sachs and BP America, whose reputation in Washington is all but infamous.