Alibaba, its sights on Yahoo, hires U.S. lobbying group

China's Alibaba has retained DC lobbyists at the Duberstein Group, suggesting it's gearing up to make a takeover bid for Yahoo.

Josh Lowensohn
Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
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Chinese Internet company Alibaba is investing in new lobbying power in the U.S., a move that syncs up with its reported plans to make a serious bid for Yahoo.

A legal filing unearthed this week shows that the company hired the services of Washington D.C.-based Duberstein Group, headed by President Reagan's former chief of staff Kenneth Duberstein.

The hire comes months after chatter about Alibaba making a move to acquire Internet giant Yahoo. In a talk at Stanford University in September, Alibaba CEO Jack Ma told an audience that he was "very interested" in such a deal.

Yahoo acquired a 40 percent stake in Alibaba several years ago, which Ma and Co. later tried to buy back, unsuccessfully. An outright purchase of Yahoo would give Alibaba its return.

Reuters, which picked up on Alibab's move in a congressional filing, notes that the lobbying group would give Alibaba a voice with politicians, something it will need if it ends up taking over Yahoo and moving a chunk of its business into the U.S. It's an especially touchy subject given Yahoo's role in the jailing of Chinese human rights activists in 2003.

Yahoo's future ownership has been under close watch following the ousting of Carol Bartz as the company's chief executive in September. A leaked memo from Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang suggested that the company was eyeing potential buyers, with Yang later saying that Yahoo's board of directors was considering various strategic options, including selling the company in piecemeal.

Besides Alibaba, Yahoo has also rumored to been offered $16.60 per share from Silver Lake Partners as part of a deal that would give it a 20 percent stake in Yahoo, alongside a deal from TPG Capital that would pay $1 more per share.