updated 10/2/2011 5:11:40 PM ET 2011-10-02T21:11:40

The CEO of the Chinese Internet company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. says he would be "very interested" in buying Yahoo Inc.

Jack Ma made the statement in response to a question during a speaking engagement at Stanford University on Friday, said John Spelich, a spokesman for Alibaba. Ma also told the audience that prospective buyers had approached Alibaba to discuss a possible purchase for Yahoo, Spelich said late Saturday. The spokesman did not identify the prospective buyers.

Yahoo is trying to decide whether to sell part or all of itself following the firing last month of Carol Bartz as CEO. Employees were told in an e-mail in late September that the process could take several months. In the meantime, there will be much speculation about who might be interested in the company.

Dana Lengkeek, a Yahoo spokeswoman, said the company had no comment on Ma's remarks.

Yahoo owns about 40 percent of Alibaba.

Bartz was fired because she was unable to boost Yahoo's advertising revenue and make the company more competitive with Google Inc. and Facebook. Yahoo's net revenue — the amount the company keeps after paying advertising commissions— fell 5 percent in the second quarter. Google's revenue soared 36 percent.

The company is also searching for a new CEO while also considering whether to sell itself. Chief Financial Officer Tim Morse is serving as interim CEO while the search for a successor to Bartz continues.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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