updated 5/20/2012 5:45:44 PM ET 2012-05-20T21:45:44

Yahoo Inc. may finally be nearing a deal to sell half of its prized stake in the major Chinese e-commerce provider Alibaba.

The struggling U.S. Internet company has been negotiating on and off for at least a year to sell a portion of its 40 percent stake in the Alibaba Group. Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg Businessweek said Sunday that an announcement could be imminent. AllThingsD, the Wall Street Journal's technology blog, also reported last week that the Internet company was close to selling part of its stake.

Yahoo's reshuffling of its board this week may have paved the path to a deal.

Representatives for Yahoo and Alibaba declined to comment on Sunday.

Selling half its stake could bring Yahoo $7 billion and help appease its shareholders by giving it the ability to pay dividends or make acquisitions or buy back its own shares.

As of March 31, Yahoo estimated its Alibaba stake was worth $14 billion. Given Yahoo's overall market value of $19 billion, investors seem to see little remaining value in the rest of the company.

The talks at various times also have involved Japan's SoftBank Corp., Alibaba's other major shareholder.

A complex deal that would have let Yahoo avert a large tax bill fell apart early this year after former CEO Scott Thompson's hiring. Thompson renewed the Alibaba discussions and last month expressed some hope that a deal would get done this year.

Thompson was ousted as CEO last weekend after hedge fund manager and investor Daniel Loeb uncovered inaccurate information in Thompson's official bio. To placate Loeb, Yahoo gave three of the 11 sears on its board to Loeb and his allies. Signaling his key role in the Alibaba talks, Loeb was appointed to the board's strategic planning and transactions committee.

The deal would also set the stage for Alibaba to pursue an initial public offering.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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