Web pioneer Yahoo may sell its core business, as the company's latest turnaround efforts continue to stall, The Wall Street Journal reported last night.
Sources familiar with the plans say the board is meeting today through Friday "to consider selling off the company’s flagging Internet businesses and how to make the most of its valuable stake in Chinese e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.," the Journal wrote. "Directors are likely to discuss whether to proceed with a plan to spin off its investment in Alibaba, currently worth more than $30 billion, find a buyer for Yahoo’s gaggle of Web properties, or both."
A Yahoo spokesperson declined to comment on the report when contacted by Ars this morning.
Yahoo, founded in 1994, hired former Google executive Marissa Mayer to turn the company around in July 2012. With Mayer as CEO, Yahoo bought Tumblr and a number of other, lesser-known companies and worked on improving its mobile apps, but it is still struggling to grow the business. In Q3 2015, Yahoo reported seven percent year-over-year growth in revenue to bring the total to $1.2 billion but posted an $86 million operating loss. Yahoo had made an operating profit of $42 million in the same quarter last year.
Yahoo's 15 percent stake in Alibaba is worth about $32 billion, the Journal report said. Since Yahoo's total market capitalization is $31 billion, stock market investors "are valuing Yahoo’s core business at less than zero if the Asian assets were spun out tax-free."
That doesn't mean Yahoo's core business would sell for nothing, though. One analyst "valued Yahoo’s core business at $3.9 billion, not including cash," the report said. Yahoo has cash and short-term investments totaling $5.9 billion.
Microsoft offered to buy Yahoo for $44.6 billion way back in 2008, but Yahoo refused to sell. This time around, the Journal's sources said that "private equity firms are expected to be among those taking a look at Yahoo’s core business."
UPDATE: The Journal is now reporting that Verizon and IAC/InterActive Corp. are among the companies likely to explore a purchase of Yahoo's Internet business. Verizon recently purchased AOL.
News Corp. and private equity firm TPG Capital also may be interested in buying "pieces of Yahoo," such as the company's media properties.