Yahoo shares rise on Alibaba news; Google urged to settle EU antitrust probe; Chrome vs. IE; Apple vs. Samsung settlement talks

Lots of other goings-on related to Silicon Valley companies to start off the week:

Yahoo shares are up more than 1 percent to $15.62 as of this post after news that the Sunnyvale company has finally reached an agreement to sell half of its 40 percent stake in Chinese Internet company Alibaba. The $7.1 billion deal, which involves Alibaba buying back the stake from Yahoo, comes after years of negotiations — and a revolving door of CEOs at Yahoo. Yahoo will sell an additional 10 percent stake in Alibaba when the company goes public, and eventually get rid of its entire stake. Yahoo plans to use the money to buy back its own shares to try to boost its stock, according to the New York Times. Some analysts like the move and are upgrading the stock, although Yahoo’s CEO situation remains up in the air after a padded-resume scandal recently pushed out Scott Thompson, who had been chief executive only since January. (See Yahoo’s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink saga.)

• The European Union is reportedly putting pressure on Google to settle antitrust charges within weeks. If the Silicon Valley giant fails to settle charges brought by Microsoft and others that it used its dominant search position to boost its own products and services in search rankings, it could face formal charges and fines. The New York Times reports that antitrust fines in Europe can reach as high as 10 percent of a company’s annual revenue. For Google last year, that was almost $38 billion. The news comes as some have speculated that the United States might soon sue Google over antitrust issues.

• In other Google news, the company’s Chrome Web browser is now used by more people than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer — at least according to a new report. Internet monitor StatCounter said Chrome overtook IE in terms of Internet traffic routed over the weekend. But CNN writes that other trackers still give IE the lead, and that some question StatCounter’s methods for measuring traffic. StatCounter’s numbers: Chrome 32.8 percent of global market share, IE 31.9 percent and Mozilla’s Firefox 25.5 percent. In March, StatCounter also reported that Chrome had overtaken IE for a day.

Apple and Samsung are talking about settling their many legal differences. The two companies — business partners that also happen to compete in the smartphone industry — have patent rows going on in many courts around the world, with each accusing the other of copying products. Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Choi Gee-sung are appearing in San Francisco for a court-ordered two-day meeting starting today; the judge wants to avoid “cruel and unusual punishment” for a jury that might be asked to decide on the huge, complicated battle over the iOS and Android mobile operating systems, according to Bloomberg. Because of the scope of the fight and what’s at stake, analysts and others say a settlement is unlikely, the Wall Street Journal reports.


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