Jack Ma, the founder and CEO of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, had no luck when he tried to buy back some of the 40 percent stake that Yahoo Inc. owns in his company. Instead, he might try to buy Yahoo outright.

Ma told a crowd at Stanford University's China 2.0 conference Friday that he was "very, very interested" in buying Yahoo. The company is not publicly on the market, but it is in turmoil. Yahoo fired CEO Carol Bartz earlier this year (she was displeased), and the Financial Times says the company is looking for a possible acquisition as much as it's looking for a new chief.

It was no secret that several funds and bankers working on potential bids for Yahoo over the past two years had been talking to Mr Ma.

His Alibaba Group is one of Yahoo Inc’s most valuable assets, and the 2005 deal under which Alibaba gained control of Yahoo China, and Yahoo Inc in turn acquired a 40 per cent stake in the Chinese ecommerce group, gives him a right of first refusal on any Yahoo Inc acquisition deal.

In addition, his various disagreements with Yahoo, often fought out noisily in public, have driven Mr Ma before to try to buy out this unloved large shareholder.

Other interested possible investors include the private equity firm Silver Lake, and Peter Chernin, the media executive, The Wall Street Journal reported.