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MSFT-YHOO: Analysts’ First Take: Agreement Likely; Major Premium For Yahoo’s Core Assets

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imageFlash analyst commentary on the deal is starting to come in. Expect a lot more discussion today and in the days ahead. We’ll update as we get more:

Imran Khan, JP Morgan: Quick reactions: Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) shareholders should accept the deal as it represents a generous premium. Regulators are not likely to block the combination, since the companies will have less than 30 percent of search market share, still will below where Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is. Advertising scale: both companies suffer from a lack of it, so this helps solve that, driving upside. Savings: The companies have a number of duplicative efforts in search monetization, sales and technology, so this will drive cost savings.

Doug Anmuth, Lehman Brothers: “We blv the proposed acquis of YHOO by MSFT makes strong strategic sense for both sides and we believe it will likely be accepted by YHOO.” Key points: Backing out Yahoo’s non-core holdings, the deal values Yahoo’s operations at $23 per share, “more than 2x the $11 value which last night’s close would suggest.” Competitive position: “Combo would have signif. lead over AOL (NYSE: TWX), GOOG in: Display, Email, IM, verticals incl. Finance.”

Spencer Wang, Bear Stearns: Wang analyzes the deal from the perspective of Time Warner’s AOL business. The good: The offer for Yahoo means there’s value in any property that has size and audience. The bad: Assuming Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) and Yahoo tie-up, this means two fewer potential buyers of AOL, possibly reducing the market value of the unit.

Mark May, Needham & Co.: “Ultimately we think the deal goes through.” May suspects some investors would rather give CEO Jerry Yang the chance to execute on his turnaround plans, but that there are a lot who are simply frustrated by the lack of a change. He notes, as others have been pointing out, that while the offer represents a big premium to Yahoo’s latest closing price, it’s only about 15 percent above the company’s 52-week average.

Jeff Lindsay, Bernstein: “The strategic and competitive benefits as well as the opportunity for MSFT to show rapid progress in the OSB (online services business) segment which is so critical to their longer-term growth story should materially benefit the stock in the medium to long term.” Deal likely to happen: “It is not clear whether or not the Yahoo! board will accept this unsolicited offer, the original founders Jerry Yang and David Filo own a combined 10% of the company. There is also the possibility of a white night/counter offer from another large media player (but not Google because of anti-trust considerations) but we think these outcomes are unlikely and the deal will be accepted“.