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<xTITLE>Where were the mediators in the Microsoft-Yahoo negotiations?</xTITLE>

Where were the mediators in the Microsoft-Yahoo negotiations?

by Diane J. Levin

From Mediation Channel

Diane J. Levin

Where were the mediators in the Microsoft Yahoo negotiationsCollaborative lawyer and ADR professional David Hoffman, in an op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor, asks, “Microsoft and Yahoo: Where were the mediators?

David makes the strong case that mediation could have made all the difference, getting these digital technology giants to yes:

In the Microsoft-Yahoo negotiations, a mediator could have helped in several concrete ways.

First, since disagreements about the price of a company usually turn on financial predictions, mediators can help the parties structure creative options for mitigating their risks. Acquisition agreements often contain “earn-out” provisions that award benefits to the seller if the deal turns out to be a winner for the buyer. Without any investment in the outcome, mediators become “honest brokers” who can advance such ideas without the perception that they are seeking an advantage based on secret knowledge.

Second, a mediator can help the parties obtain neutral and independent opinions – as opposed to the potentially partisan opinions of the parties’ hired experts, lawyers, and investment bankers.

Third, a “mediator’s proposal” can test the waters of compromise. Let’s say the mediator asks each side to tell the mediator – on a confidential basis – whether they would accept a deal at $35 per share. This protocol means the mediator will report the answers only if both sides say “yes.” Thus, each side can take the risk of saying yes because the other side will never know unless they, too, have said yes.

Considering that mediation is “assisted negotiation“, it’s time for all of us who mediate to draw attention to the fact that mediation is not just for settling cases on their way to court or already in litigation — mediation makes sense whenever people want to negotiate better and smarter.

Biography


Diane Levin, J.D., is a mediator, dispute resolution trainer, negotiation coach, writer, and lawyer based in Marblehead, Massachusetts, who has instructed people from around the world in the art of talking it out. Since 1995 she has helped clients resolve disputes involving tort, employment, business, estate, family, and real property issues, and serves on numerous mediation panels, including the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Training and coaching are an enduring passion -- she has taught thousands of people to resolve conflict, negotiate better, or become mediators -- from Croatian judges to Fortune 500 executives.

 

A geek at heart, Levin consults on web design and social media to professionals.  She blogs about ADR at the intersection of law, science, and popular culture at the award-winning MediationChannel.com, regarded as one of the world's top ADR blogs.  She also tracks and catalogues ADR blogs world-wide at ADRblogs.com, where she has created a community for bloggers writing about constructive ways to resolve disputes.

 

web site: http://dianelevin.com



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