Reuters is reporting that TimeWarner is seeking to strike a deal with either Yahoo or Microsoft for AOL. It says that talks between the companies “have taken on new urgency ahead of Yahoo’s Aug 1 shareholders meeting.”
Any deal with Yahoo would apparently be along the lines of a merger, with TimeWarner owning a minority stake in the combined company. By contrast, a deal with Microsoft would be an outright sale.
A Yahoo-AOL combination would present some of the same challenges and difficult choices that we earlier speculated about in a MicroHoo merger. Arguably this scenario would be more challenging because AOL and Yahoo are even more similar than Yahoo and Microsoft in many respects.
In the second scenario, a Microsoft acquisition, Redmond would get some of what it wanted in buying Yahoo but not the search volume. Conceivably, Microsoft could buy AOL and still pursue Yahoo’s search business.
Regardless of the buyer or merger partner, it appears now very likely that some sort of deal will be announced in the next couple of weeks. And we can look forward to more anti-trust hearings in either case.