NEW YORK: "We are definitely not going to make a bid for Yahoo," proclaimed the chieftain of Clan Murdoch last week. And he probably won't. Or, at least, not directly.

The canny campaigner is better aware than most that there's more than one way of skinning a corporate cat – as the number of commercial pelts over his fireplace attest.

According to a report carefully leaked to Murdoch's most recent  pelt – the Wall Street Journal – a promising stratagem was hatched over dinner last week, when Rupert Murdoch and his lieutenant, NewsCorp president Peter Chernin, chomped their way through the options with Yahoo ceo Jerry Yang.

Yahoo, currently under siege by Microsoft's unsolicited $42.1 billion bid [see other Yahoo story in today's WARC News], is desperately seeking a White Knight who will offer a deal more acceptable to the web portal's management - and at the same time have equal appeal to Yahoo's lip-smackin' stockholders.

Enter Young Lochinvar on a White Steed circling NewsCorp's dining table onto which he threw a Machiavellian Murdochian proposal.

The media conglomerate would exchange its ownership of MySpace and several other online properties for a significant stake in Yahoo.

And although the size of the stake went unmentioned, the WSJ helpfully points out that that that as long as it doesn't exceed 19.9% the deal would not require approval by Yahoo shareholders. 

Once the dust has settled, NewsCorp could quietly begin to build its holding to the point where it effectively controls Yahoo.

And even if that takes a year or two, there'll be interim benefits – for example Yahoo could allow NewsCorp's web properties to sell advertising across Yahoo's premium internet inventory.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff