AOL and News Corp. enter Yahoo! takeover fray

Yahoo! is negotiating a deal with Time Warner’s AOL aimed at helping it fend off Microsoft’s $44.6 billion takeover bid. Under the deal, Yahoo! would take control of AOL, valued at $10 billion, and Time Warner would get a 20 percent stake in the combined company. Microsoft, meanwhile, is talking with News Corp. about joining the bid for Yahoo!, in a deal that would combine MSN, Yahoo!, and MySpace under one umbrella. (The Wall Street Journal) Yahoo! is also testing out outsourcing its search ads to Google. (Reuters) “This is a move toward an independent future, but investors will not be impressed,” said Wim Zwanenburg at Bank Degroof Group. “Microsoft will prevail.” (Bloomberg)

Japan’s Takeda buys U.S. cancer-drug firm

Takeda Pharmaceutical, Japan’s largest drugmaker, agreed to pay $8.8 billion to buy U.S. cancer-drug producer Millennium Pharmaceuticals. ( The price, $25 a share, is 53 percent higher than Millennium’s closing price yesterday. Takeda has been under pressure to expand its drug portfolio before the U.S. patent for its top diabetes medicine, Actos, expires in 2011. (Reuters) Japanese drug firms are looking for growth abroad amid flat domestic sales. Millennium’s hit drug is blood-cancer medicine Velcade, which had $265 million in sales last year. “This deal will boost Takeda’s drug-development flow,” said analyst Mitsuo Ohmi at Japan Advisory LLC. (Bloomberg)

Wal-Mart, DuPont raise forecasts

Retail giant Wal-Mart raised its quarterly profit forecast, after its March same-store sales rose a weaker-than-expected 0.7 percent. Analysts had forecast 1 percent growth. (MarketWatch) For the second quarter, Wal-Mart expects to earn 74 cents to 76 cents a share, up from 70 cents to 74 cents. (Reuters) Meanwhile, chemical and seed giant DuPont raised its first-quarter profit forecast to $1.29 a share, from $1.14 to $1.19, as strong agricultural and emerging-markets sales outweigh weakness in its U.S. housing- and automotive-related businesses. (AP in Dupont is the world’s top car-paint maker and makes countertops and housing insulation. (Bloomberg)

An end to pork in Turkey

Lazari Kozmaoglu, an ethnic Greek Christian in an overwhelmingly Muslim city, is the last pork butcher in Istanbul. Starting in 2004, after 40 people got food poisoning from raw pork at a restaurant in a Turkish town on the Aegean Sea, the Turkish government started closing down pig farms, slaughterhouses, and pork butchers. The conservative Muslim government denies allegations that the crackdown is due to Muslim strictures against eating pork. But with such a niche market, the result is the same, and Kozmaoglu’s sales have dropped to less than a 10th of their 2004 levels. With little to sell, playing backgammon is “the best part of my time in the shop,” he says. (Bloomberg)