SAN FRANCISCO ? Yahoo! chief executive Carol Bartz sought Friday to ease tensions with Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce giant in which the California Internet company holds a 39 percent stake.
"Our investment as a shareholder in Alibaba Group is strategic and a great one for our company and our shareholders," Bartz said in a statement a day after Alibaba said its bid to buy back part Yahoo!'s stake had been rejected.
"As an investor, Yahoo! has no operational control in the group and we're very supportive of the operational direction Jack Ma and his team are taking the group," Bartz said, calling Ma "one of the most impressive entrepreneurs of our time."
"We are not going to comment on any private discussions we may or may not have with our strategic partners," Bartz said. "As with all matters like this, any decisions regarding this investment would be driven by what will create the most value for our shareholders."
John Spelich, a spokesman for the Hong Kong-listed unit Alibaba.com, said Thursday that Yahoo! had rejected Alibaba's partial sale offer and Yahoo! had "countered with a very different proposal which we found unjustifiable and we terminated the discussions."
Alibaba Group sold the 39 percent stake to Yahoo! in 2005 in exchange for control of Yahoo!'s China operation and one billion dollars.
The Alibaba Group owns China's largest online consumer e-commerce site Taobao as well as wholesale platform Alibaba.com.
In January, Alibaba condemned Yahoo! as "reckless" for supporting Google in a public spat with Beijing over censorship and cyberattacks that Google said originated from China.
David Wei, chief executive of Alibaba.com, told reporters last week that the company should "re-evaluate" its ties with Yahoo! after reports Yahoo! Hong Kong was considering taking online advertising from companies in China, which would put the two firms in competition.