Microsoft has just signed a nondisclosure agreement with Yahoo in order to take a sneak peak at Yahoo's financial information. Reports are suggesting that Microsoft is using this tactic to decide whether or not they want to place a bid.
Apparently, from what Bloomberg reports, Yahoo's advisers are advising that bids be submitted by next week. Bidders simply offer to buy a minority steak in Yahoo but have yet to arrange financing for a full takeover. Microsoft could finance a bid and not necessarily try to buy Yahoo entirely.
Microsoft last tried buying Yahoo in 2008 by offering to pay as much as $47.5 billion dollars. Yahoo, for some reason, refused the bid. Microsoft ended up attaining a 10 year search deal with Yahoo in 2009, which allowed Microsoft's technology to power Yahoo's search results and gave Microsoft a 12% cut of advertising revenue on Yahoo.
Reports were circulating that Microsoft was interested in purchasing Yahoo, who apparently holds more than a thousand patents as well as its search and advertising partnership with Microsoft. "Yahoo's value hasn't grown in years, and some executives feel we should buy something that is more forward-looking," said an anonymous Microsoft executive.
One big benefit for Microsoft if they were to acquire Yahoo would be to clench nearly 30% of the search market and boost Bing to new heights. Looks like we will just have to wait and see if Microsoft decides to go forth with this acquisition.