SUNNYVALE, Calif. — Yahoo Inc. has extended a deadline for nominating candidates to its board, giving the struggling Internet pioneer more time to search for a white knight to help it fight off an unwanted takeover bid from Microsoft Corp.
The announcement Wednesday comes amid published reports that Yahoo has stepped up discussions with Time Warner Inc. about acquiring or forming a joint venture with its AOL online unit to fend off the world's largest software company.
Microsoft's bid, originally valued at $44.6 billion, or $31 per share, was made public Feb. 1. Yahoo has rejected the offer as too low, and it was expected Microsoft would nominate its own slate to the Yahoo board to push the deal through.
Yahoo said the deadline for nominations would be 10 days after it announces the date of its annual shareholder meeting. The previous deadline was March 14.
In a statement, Yahoo said the extension would allow its board "to continue to explore all of its strategic alternatives for maximizing value for stockholders without the distraction of a proxy contest."
Yahoo and AOL declined comment on the reports Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times that Yahoo and Time Warner have stepped up discussions over AOL.
One scenario calls for Yahoo to acquire AOL outright with Time Warner taking a minority stake in the combined company, the Journal reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.
The Times, citing unnamed people close to Yahoo, said a Yahoo-AOL combination has the backing of Google Inc., which owns 5 percent of AOL LLC. and fears a Microsoft takeover of Yahoo.
A Yahoo-AOL combination would create a stronger advertising-driven business that could ultimately compete with Internet search and advertising leader Google.
Both AOL and Yahoo have strengths in emerging technologies for targeting ads based on users' Web surfing patterns, an approach that Google so far has shunned in favor of contextual, keyword-based placements.
Yahoo also has been in discussions media conglomerate News Corp., the owner of the popular online hangout MySpace, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
Yahoo and Time Warner have talked about a combination before, but the idea was rejected in 2005 because Time Warner at the time insisted that it retain majority ownership in the AOL unit, two people close to those discussions told the AP.
On Wednesday, shares of Yahoo gained 29 cents, or 1 percent, to $28.35, while Microsoft increased 51 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $28.10. Time Warner stock advanced 14 cents to $15.43, and Google share jumped $6.56, or 1.5 percent, to $451.16.