Monday, 7 April 2008

Microsoft gives Yahoo! ultimatum

Microsoft has given Yahoo! a three-week deadline to accept its offer for a buy out at $44.6 billion (£22.3 billion). Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said his company would take its case directly to Yahoo's shareholders if Yahoo's directors did not respond by 26 April 2008.

Since the original bid on 31 January 2008 which Yahoo! rejected, has since explored alliances with other firms, but no offer has surfaced. In a letter, Mr Ballmer acknowledged that such negotiations were underway, but wondered why Yahoo was not talking to Microsoft too.

Mr Ballmer said his company's offer - 62% above Yahoo's market value at the time - had grown stronger as time had passed. "We believe that the majority of your shareholders share this assessment," he wrote, adding that Microsoft would take its case directly to them and work to elect a new board of directors if they did not respond within three weeks.

Last month, Yahoo estimated it would almost double its operating cash flow over the next three years and generate $8.8bn in revenue after costs in 2010. (source: BBC News) - Microsoft serious about takeover & Businessman of the Month, Yahoo! and AOL continue merger talks, Yahoo! rejects Microsoft offer, Microsoft not intending to raise its stake in Yahoo!

Thomas Cook the travel agency has snapped up bespoke holiday firm Elegant Resorts. Founded in 1988, the shareholders Geoff Moss and Barbara Catchpole have sold the business for an undisclosed sum.

The firm's packages feature luxuries such as helicopter transfers and champagne on arrival, and last year catered for more than 20,000 travellers. Thomas Cook is planned to run the business as a standalone unit with the current management team remaining in place.

Group chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa said "Elegant Resorts has a very strong brand name, associated with luxury, style and bespoke holidays and fully supports our strategic aim to become a leading independent travel provider."

Elegant Resorts currently has 160 staff, with three overseas offices in Barbados, Dubai and Mauritius. Last year it had total gross assets of £22.3 million. Chairman Mr Moss and PR director Ms Catchpole are the main shareholders, with other staff also holding shares.

The deal follows the £21.8 million paid by the travel giant hotel for booking website in February, which boosted its presence in the independent travel sector.

Thomas Cook shares were up nearly 1% today. (source: The Independent) -Thomas Cook on track for record profits

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