Report: Former AOL chief wants to buy Yahoo

December 2, 2008: 4:33 PM ET

By Yi-Wyn Yen

Yahoo's fate is becoming more convoluted every day. Just two days after the Times of London reported that talks between Microsoft and Yahoo were back on, the the Wall Street Journal says former AOL chief executive Jonathan Miller is trying to raise money from private equity and sovereign wealth investors to buy the struggling Internet company.

Shares of Yahoo (YHOO) spiked 11% to $12.50 in mid-day trading on the news that Miller wants to raise between $28 billion to $30 billion to buy the company at $20-$22 a share.

Calls to Miller's office were not returned.

Some are skeptical that Miller will be able to succeed. Wrote Standard & Poor's Internet analyst Scott Kessler in a note, "We think YHOO is attractively valued, but that Miller would have difficulty raising this amount of capital, given the state of the global economy, of capital markets, and of YHOO itself."

Miller has close ties with Yahoo and activist investor Carl Icahn. Miller was nominated to Yahoo's board last August as part of a settlement which gave Icahn three seats. However, Miller withdrew because former employer Time Warner (TWX) (which also owns Fortune) would not waive a non-compete clause. Miller, who runs venture firm Velocity Interactive Group, was a consultant to Microsoft (MSFT) and Yahoo during their negotiations earlier this year.

Last week Icahn doubled down on Yahoo by spending $67 million for another 6.8 million shares. The corporate raider's move fueled speculation that a search deal with Microsoft was inevitable. Icahn has lost roughly $1 billion since buying 69 million Yahoo shares at $25 a pop.

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