Yang declines to deal, so when do we get our cage match?

Saturday's deadline for Yahoo to respond to Microsoft's takeover overtures has come and gone. On April 5, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer promised Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang that if that happened, Microsoft would "take our case directly to your shareholders, including the initiation of a proxy contest to elect an alternative slate of directors for the Yahoo board." Which is exactly the kind of action we need around here. So when can we expect the scrum to start? Microsoft executives hope not soon — or ever.

The company is entering "its annual budgeting season" and division toppers covetous of cash aren't eager to see it diverted toward roping in a reluctant Yahoo. But that reluctance at Yahoo might be relegated to the topmost ranks only. Yahoo VPs — perhaps sick of infighting and overseeing underfunded projects — are ready and willing to embrace their Microsoft overlords. Besides, "people familiar with the matter" tell the WSJ that as much as he might like to, Ballmer can't back out of buying Yahoo now. Doing so would damage his credibility as a serious and credible chief executive. Expect Microsoft to propose a new board by July 13 — the latest date Yahoo can legally hold its annual shareholder meeting.