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Publicly, Google came out against the deal, contending in a statement that the pairing, proposed by Microsoft on Friday in the form of a hostile offer, would pose threats to competition that need to be examined by policy makers around the world.
Privately, Google, seeing the potential deal as a direct attack, went much further. Its chief executive, Eric E. Schmidt, placed a call to Yahoo’s chief, Jerry Yang, offering the company’s help in fending off Microsoft, possibly in the form of a partnership between the companies, people briefed on the call said.
Google’s lobbyists in Washington have also begun plotting how it might present a case against the transaction to lawmakers, people briefed on the company’s plans said. Google could benefit by simply prolonging a regulatory review until after the next president takes office.
In addition, several Google executives made “back-channel” calls over the weekend to allies at companies like Time Warner, which owns AOL, to inquire whether they planned to pursue a rival offer and how they could assist, these people said. Google owns 5 percent of AOL.