Icahn may be open to Google-Yahoo deal

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn says the deal between search companies Yahoo! and Google "might have some merit," but he is continuing to study it.

In a surprise statement -- part of an interview with Reuters whose full transcript has yet to be released -- not only did Carl Icahn actually hold out hope for supporting last Thursday's AdSense deal between Yahoo and Google, but actually declined comment as to whether he would press on with his bid to upset Yahoo's board of directors.

Whether Icahn's near-blessing means he will back off of his fight to replace the leadership at Yahoo remains unclear. However, Google has placed some contingencies on the deal that could dissuade the activist investor from making any moves.

A "change of control" clause will essentially allow Google to walk away from the deal if an acquisition occurs or -- which seems the more likely scenario -- a majority of the board is replaced. In comments during his interview with Reuters, Icahn was reported to suggest that clause may be enough to change his position. However, such a move would be somewhat unusual for him, and its likely he'd still look for some type of representation.

The news comes as another major Yahoo shareholder -- Ironfire Capital President Eric Jackson, who has pushed for a change at the top since at least early 2007 -- put forth a compromise deal, according to Reuters. In this proposal, five of Yahoo's current board members would be kept, and four replaced with members from the Icahn slate. Jackson was a staunch opponent of former Yahoo CEO Terry Semel, but at one time proposed that Susan Decker -- then a lower-level manager, now the company's President -- be appointed in his stead.

Meanwhile, members of Congress are still calling for investigations, and the Justice Department is apparently already looking into the two companies' business deals.

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