Former AOL chief in talks with investors to buy Yahoo!

NEW YORK - The former chief executive of AOL, Jonathan Miller, is reported to be talking to investors about buying part or all of Yahoo! for as much as $30bn.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Miller has been taking soundings from private equity firms and Middle Eastern wealth funds.

The news follows a report in the Sunday Times that claimed Yahoo! was to sell its search business to Microsoft for $20bn (£13.1bn)

The story also claimed that Miller, who ran AOL from 2002 to 2006, and Ross Levinsohn, a former president of Fox Interactive Media, had been lined up to lead a new Yahoo! management team.

The Sunday Times story said that the pair would borrow $5bn from Microsoft and raise another $5bn from external investors to buy Yahoo!.

The WSJ says that Miller believes he can come up with a deal worth as much as $22 a share to Yahoo! shareholders to purchase the entire company, including the search business, which would value the internet firm at between $28bn to $30bn.

However, the paper added that some large Yahoo! investors were unaware of the moves, suggesting that Miller's efforts are informal, while others were sceptical of his chances of success considering how risky an investment in Yahoo! would be in the current environment.

Yahoo! has seen its share price plummet this year from more than $30 in February when Microsoft made its $44.6bn (£29.6bn) bid, to just $11.50. Jerry Yang, who stepped down as chief executive two weeks ago, has shouldered most of the blame for this decline.