Sun, Feb 21, 2016 - Page 13 News List

Yahoo hires investment banks to evaluate bids


Yahoo Inc’s board has hired three investment banking firms to evaluate potential bids for its Internet operations in the clearest sign yet that chief executive officer Marissa Mayer might not have much more time to turn around the struggling company.

The move, announced on Friday, comes two-and-a-half weeks after Yahoo disclosed it would consider “strategic alternatives” while Mayer cuts costs through mass layoffs, office closures and a purge of unprofitable products.

Mayer believes the overhaul would boost profits and sharpen Yahoo’s focus on mobile apps and other services most likely to revive the company’s revenue growth after years of decline.

Some Yahoo shareholders frustrated with a steep drop in the company’s stock price have been pushing for a sale of the Internet operations instead.

The board has now responded to that pressure by hiring investment bankers Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and PJT Partners to set up a process for meeting with companies interested in buying all or parts of Yahoo’s business. A special committee of Yahoo’s directors is to discuss the options with the bankers and the company’s legal advisers, Cravath, Swaine and Moore.

While the board mulls those alternatives, Mayer is to continue to pursue a turnaround plan that includes jettisoning 15 percent of Yahoo’s workforce.

“We believe that pursuing these complementary paths is in the best interests of our shareholders and will maximize value,” Yahoo chairman Maynard Webb said in a statement.

Mayer also is trying to spin off Yahoo’s Internet operations into a newly created company while leaving behind prized stakes in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) and Yahoo Japan. The proposed spinoff might not be completed until next year, if Yahoo’s Internet business is not sold before then.

Yahoo did not identify any of the potential bidders that it might meet.

Verizon Communications Inc has publicly said it might be interested in buying parts of the company after paying US$4.4 billion last year to snap up another fading Internet company, AOL Inc.

Analysts believe Yahoo's other likely suitors could include AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and various private equity firms that specialize in snapping up troubled companies with well-known brands, such as Yahoo.

Virtually all of Yahoo's current market value of US$28 billion is tied to its stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan. The holdings in Alibaba alone are valued at US$26 billion.

Analysts still believe Yahoo's line-up of still-popular services such as e-mail, sports and finance could fetch several billion dollars in a sale.

Yahoo's stock gained US$0.62, or 2 percent, to close on Friday at US$30.04. The shares have plunged by 40 percent since the end of 2014.

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