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In a letter responding to corporate raider Carl Icahn's demands that Yahoo rescind a $2.5 billion severance package and restart merger negotiations with Microsoft, Yahoo chairman Roy Bostock writes:

You seem to be under the impression that somehow Microsoft will come back to the negotiating table for a full acquisition of Yahoo. This is puzzling as I know you are aware that we have reached out to Microsoft proactively and met with them many times in the last several weeks. During this period, their message to us and to the markets has been and remains that they are not interested in pursuing a full acquisition of Yahoo!.

Bostock took the words right off our fingertips. Why, after several public statements from Microsoft executives to the contrary, does Carl Icahn believe Microsoft still wants to buy Yahoo?

Carl Icahn is no newbie to the tactics of corporate raiding. He's already wagered at least $1.5 billion of his own money and more of his friends' on a Yahoo deal. He wouldn't do that without cover. Our guess is that someone at Microsoft has given Icahn the nod, with the tacit agreement that Icahn has to do all the dirty work. Microsoft executives, who will have to work with Yahoo employees after a takeover, know they can't be seen to be publicly fighting to kill a popular severance package.