Microsoft-Yahoo following the DOJ sundial?

Microsoft's efforts to acquire Yahoo may come under increasing pressure this month, as time ticks away to get the deal done and past regulators, before President Bush leaves office.

Microsoft's quest for Yahoo may come under increasing pressure this month, as time ticks away to get a deal done and past antitrust regulators, before President George W. Bush exits stage left, said proxy solicitors and investment bankers.

That's because it typically takes anywhere from six to eight months to move a merger deal through the Hart-Scott-Rodino process and beyond, said one former, high-level antitrust attorney with the Department of Justice, who is now in private practice.

A spokeswoman for the DOJ noted that while the agency has previously stated it would be interested in looking at a Microsoft-Yahoo deal should one occur, the time it takes to review mergers ranges widely.

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And although one source familiar with Microsoft's efforts to acquire Yahoo said the software giant doesn't have any internal deadline for snaring the Internet search pioneer and there is no clear correlation between the party in power and nixed mergers, Microsoft, nonetheless, may be watching the clock and doing the backward math, say proxy solicitors and investment bankers.

President Bush, who is on his way out come January 20 when a new president is inaugurated, has largely been good for Microsoft in the antitrust arena--at least in comparison to the its treatment from European antitrust regulators.

And should Microsoft be watching the clock, that bodes well for Yahoo.

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