Yahoo Japan Surges on Verizon Interest in Yahoo's Stake

Here's Why Bidders Are Interested in Yahoo
  • Shares up most in three months after Verizon said to be keen
  • Verizon said to have made offer to sweeten its bid for Yahoo

Yahoo Japan Corp. shares rose the most in almost three months on news that Verizon Communications Inc. is willing to buy Yahoo Inc.’s stake in the Japanese Web company as part of a bid for the business.

Verizon made the offer to include Yahoo Japan to help sweeten the offer, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday. Shares in the Japanese Internet portal closed 6.4 percent higher at 484 yen in Tokyo on Friday, the biggest gain since Jan. 13.

Yahoo said it would explore strategic alternatives, including selling its main Internet operations, earlier this year after scrapping a long-time plan to spin off its valuable Asian assets. The U.S. company’s stock has lost about a fifth of its value in the past 12 months as turnaround efforts led by Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer stalled and sales have sagged, leaving the company vulnerable to activist investors.

Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo would prefer to sell its 35.5 percent stake in Yahoo Japan, worth more than $8 billion, along with the core business, Bloomberg reported last month. First-round bids for Yahoo’s main Web assets were due April 11, a person with knowledge of the matter said last week. The company has extended the deadline for bids to April 18, Re/Code said Friday, citing unidentified sources close to situation. Yahoo shares fell 1.3 percent to $36.17 at the close in New York Thursday.

Google, the main division of Alphabet Inc., is also considering bidding for Yahoo’s core business, a separate person said. Potential suitors AT&T Inc. and Comcast have decided against bidding, some of the people said, asking not to be identified as the discussions aren’t public. Microsoft Corp., which failed with a hostile bid for Yahoo in 2008, won’t bid this time, another person said.

Time Inc. is still evaluating a bid, while private equity funds Bain and TPG -- among others -- are also planning to make a run at the business, either alone or by backing a strategic acquirer, the people said.

Verizon and its subsidiary AOL Inc. are working with at least three financial advisers on the Yahoo bid, said three of the people. Hiring so many banks is a sign that Verizon is serious about its takeover plans -- it has said since late last year that it was interested in buying some or all of Yahoo.

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