Murdoch will help Yahoo get more from Microsoft E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons by Srivaths @FortuneMagazine February 13, 2008, 10:31 PM EDT It’s being widely reported that Yahoo YHOO and News Corp. NWS are back in talks to combine Yahoo with MySpace and other properties that make up Fox Interactive Media, News Corp.’s online arm. The companies held what I’m told were very preliminary talks along a similar vein last year. The deal would have three main components: 1) News Corp. would contribute FIM to Yahoo; 2) News Corp. would invest in Yahoo; 3) a private-equity partner would inject yet more cash into Yahoo. The goal, in theory, would be to raise Yahoo’s value with the cash investments, thus obviating the need for Yahoo to sell to Microsoft MSFT . Here’s the problem. Or, rather, the problems. It’s going to be tricky to value MySpace, which will be the linchpin of the value of what News Corp. is contributing. If whatever News and Yahoo were to assemble didn’t add up to Microsoft’s current offer ($31), or counter-offer, the board of directors at Yahoo would be in a pickle. Couldn’t they just accept a lower bid with the argument that Yahoo is worth more independent than selling out? Sure. Then they’d get sued. They’ve got to be able to best Microsoft’s offer in a reasonable timeframe, or they’re not doing their fiduciary duty. There’s more. In a note to clients Wednesday, UBS analyst Ben Schachter (who had a buy rating on Yahoo at $19, when many of his competitors had lost faith, because he figured Yahoo’s falling price would provoke a sale, or at least a bid) reasons that the only way for a YahooSpace to achieve necessary profits would be do a search outsourcing deal with Google (GOOG). That’d bring the companies back to the same regulatory conundrum they’ve already been grappling with: Google’s search share is too big. There’s also the question of whether Yahoo needs MySpace. After all, “Yahoo’s problem has not been a lack of inventory, ” writes Schacter, meaning that it already has a huge audience. It’s problem, he writes is “its poor execution on optimizing monetization.” That means Yahoo isn’t so good at making money from its 500-million-plus audience. Schacter has a $34 price target on Yahoo because he thinks Microsoft will raise its bid. So is Yahoo wasting its time talking to News Corp.? Of course not. Its stock traded over $30 Wednesday, closing at $29.88. To the point of my earlier post, that’s a sign investors expect a higher bid from Microsoft, not that it’s overly impressed with a News Corp.-Yahoo tie-up.