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Silver Lake Said to Weigh Buying Yahoo, Selling Asian Assets

Silver Lake Said to Weigh Buying Yahoo, Selling Asian Assets
Yahoo! Inc. logos are displayed on computer screens in Tiskilwa, Illinois. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Private-equity investor Silver Lake is considering a bid for Yahoo! Inc., the Web company that ousted Chief Executive Officer Carol Bartz, two people involved in the deliberations said.

As part of a deal, Silver Lake would sell off Yahoo’s Asian assets and then attempt to turn around the main operations or find a buyer for that business, said the people, who asked not to be named because the matter is private. Representatives of Silver Lake have approached other companies to gauge interest in purchasing Yahoo’s main business, one person said.

Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock fired Bartz last week after her efforts to fend off Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. fell short. Asian assets that include a 43 percent stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., combined with a slumping share price, make the company a possible takeover candidate, said analysts at Deutsche Bank Securities and such investors as Di Zhou, an analyst at Thornburg Investment Management.

Representatives of Yahoo and Silver Lake didn’t return phone messages seeking comment.

Yahoo’s board met yesterday to hear a presentation from investment bank Allen & Co. on the company’s options and deliberate the search for a successor to Bartz, another person familiar with the matter said earlier this week.

A range of companies have been preparing possible bids for Yahoo and have gotten in touch with the company’s board in recent days, the technology blog AllThingsDigital reported this week. Silver Lake is among potential buyers, it reported.

Alibaba, Softbank

A private-equity company would likely seek a buyer for Yahoo’s stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan Corp., which according to Gabelli & Co., account for about 80 percent of the company’s market value. Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma tried to repurchase the stake from Bartz and was rebuffed.

Other Yahoo assets include e-mail, instant messaging and news and information portals that generate revenue from advertising and, according to ComScore Inc., were viewed by 674 million people in July. Yahoo also owns the No. 2 U.S. Web-search engine, after Google’s.

Yahoo’s directors are under pressure from investors such as Third Point LLC, which urged the board to resign last week after buying a 5.2 percent stake. The investment firm said directors erred in spurning a takeover bid from Microsoft Corp. in 2008 and hired a CEO who wasn’t up to the job.

The “board of directors has made a number of decisions that have directly harmed the company and resulted in a stock price far below the company’s intrinsic value,” New York-based Third Point said in a filing.

Yahoo shares rose 8 cents to $14.97 at 4 p.m. New York time on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The stock has dropped 10 percent this year.

Separately, Yahoo said today that it raised interim CEO Tim Morse’s base pay. His salary increased to $750,000 from $600,000. The raise, approved by the board, took effect yesterday, Yahoo said in a regulatory filing.

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