Singapore's Temasek, Russia's DST and Yahoo co-founder Jeff Yang are among the latest names to be linked with a bid for Yahoo, the US search company and Alibaba's largest shareholder.
Jack Ma, Alibaba's chief executive and founder, declared last week he was "very very interested" in buying Yahoo but it was not yet clear where he could get hold of the cash. Alibaba's cash on hand, reported to be about $1.5bn, is nowhere near Yahoo's $19.5bn market capitalisation.
But Ma's dream -- and after such a troubled relationship with Yahoo, half the dream is getting rid of an awkward partner -- could be getting closer if the rumours of potential bidders are true.
Temasek, the Singaporean state-owned investment company, which already owns a stake in Alibaba, certainly has the firepower to help the Chinese company out. Temasek is not interested in owning Yahoo but could help fund an offer in return for a bigger share of Alibaba, Bloomberg reported.
Yuri Milner, the Russian entrepreneur behind DST, also has a fair bit of cash sloshing around. Milner recently sold some of his shares in Mail.ru, Russia's largest internet company by monthly users, which he co-founded.
Meanwhile, Yahoo's co-founder and former chief executive Jerry Yang is also reported to be interested in crafting a deal with PE firms. Whether these are the same PE firms helping out Alibaba is unclear.
Other rivals reported to be circling Yahoo include Microsoft and private equity firms Providence Equity Partners and Hellman & Friedman.
If Alibaba could come up with the cash, it is also not clear whether it would simply use a bid to take back Yahoo's 40 per cent stake in the company. In this scenario, the PE firms would end up running Yahoo.
Or all the partners could transform the US search company together, perhaps giving Alibaba's e-commerce sites a foothold in the US.
One thing is certain: Jack Ma will want to choose his partners carefully after having such a difficult experience with Yahoo.
"There are lots of examples of how foreign and Chinese companies co-operating always creates a lot of conflicts and Jack Ma has already experienced that himself. I don't think he would like to find another foreign party to work with unless they really have very aligned interests," Victor Yip, a Hong Kong-based analyst at UOB Kian told FT Tilt.
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