Verizon Told Conclusion of Yahoo Hack Probe Still Weeks Away

  • Company to decide how to proceed with acquisition at that time
  • Yahoo still makes sense strategically for Verizon: EVP Walden

Yahoo! Inc.’s investigation into the second major hack of user accounts still has weeks to go, according to a Verizon Communications Inc. executive, who said the company will decide afterward how to proceed with its $4.8 billion acquisition of the tech giant.

“There’s a lot of work that has to happen,” Marni Walden, an executive vice president at Verizon, said at an investor conference Thursday.

Yahoo still provides Verizon the scale needed to build its media and advertising business, Walden said. But she cautioned that the company needs to take a damage assessment before making a final decision.

“We have to be responsible to the business and to everyone that invests in Verizon,” she said.

Verizon began exploring a lower price or a possible exit from its purchase agreement in the wake of Yahoo’s December disclosure of one of the largest-scale data breaches reported to date, Bloomberg reported at the time.

The Sunnyvale, California-based company said that cyber-thieves in 2013 siphoned information from more than 1 billion Yahoo accounts, including users’ e-mail addresses, scrambled account passwords and dates of birth, data that allow criminals to go after more sensitive personal information elsewhere online. It was the second disclosure of a major data breach since Verizon agreed to buy Yahoo. In September, the tech company revealed that more than 500 million users’ data had been hacked in a separate, state-sponsored attack in 2014.

Verizon has said it has received only limited information about the incidents and is waiting for a full disclosure when the investigation concludes.

Verizon’s position on the Yahoo transaction hasn’t changed since the hacking revelations in December, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Verizon has kept its legal team separate from the integration-planning team headed up by AOL Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong, said the person. The company wants to ensure it’s paying a fair price for the assets without taking on more costs related to the hacks, and is negotiating a separation agreement from any future legal fallout from the breaches. Verizon is seeking to have Yahoo assume any lasting responsibility for the hack damage, the person said.

Yahoo said it’s confident in the company’s value and continues to work toward integration with New York-based Verizon.

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