But Microsoft chose to go it alone. That is, CEO Steve Ballmer and the rest of the software giant did not retain the services of an investment bank when negotiating the largest acquisition in its history (and beating Google in the war over Skype).
Even though Ballmer (at left) appears to be quite pleased with the purchase, it remains to be seen if Microsoft hatched a good deal for the Internet-based phone company, which last year recorded $859.8 million in revenues and a $7 million loss.
Historically, Microsoft has made some sour purchases, and has nearly made some rotten ones.
In 2007, Microsoft paid approximately $6 billion to acquire online advertising firm aQuantive Inc. Many current and former Microsoft executives believe Microsoft significantly overpaid for that deal. But they are also relieved that Microsoft gave up on an unsolicited $48 billion offer for Yahoo Inc. nearly three years ago. Yahoo is valued at half that sum today.
As for the Luxembourg-based Skype, it seems Goldman and JPMorgan earned their keep (as well as about $17 million in fees each for their effort). Skype was purchased by eBay in 2005 for $2.6 billion (eBay later sold the firm to a group of investors), and as late as last year, Skype only expected to get between $5 billion and $6 billion for an outright sale.
As for why Microsoft decided not to enlist any bankers for advice, Ballmer said, "We thought it made sense to go directly to Silver Lake [one of its investors, which stands to make a couple billion dollars from the deal] which is what we did, and that seems to have worked out well."
In the past, when making previous acquisitions, Microsoft looked for advice from several investment banks, including Lazard, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank.
(WSJ: Microsoft Near Deal to Acquire Skype)
(DealBook: Microsoft to Buy Skype for $8.5 Billion)
(Reuters: Microsoft Snubs Banks for $8.5 Billion Skype Takeover)