Yahoo Sale Getting Closer?

Yahoo for SaleYahoo advisors are readying financial information for potential buyers, Reuters is reporting. Seems over the past few weeks a number of companies have shown interest in buying some or all of Yahoo, according to the news service.

“Over the last few weeks, potential buyers including large technology and media companies, private equity and international companies have proposed many different options regarding Yahoo’s various businesses, one of the sources said,” Reuters stated.

Goldman Sachs and Allen & Company are helping Yahoo gather the financial information and prepare the due diligence needed prior to a sale. These moves have a number of major news media speculating on who potential buyers could be this time around.

Microsoft had made an offer of $31 a share for the company just prior to Carol Bartz coming on as CEO 30 months ago. Bartz was dismissed last month. The stock was trading at $12.50 at the time she was let go. That news combined with the sale rumors have the stock price up 20 percent over the month.

So who is interested in buying Yahoo? Microsoft is back again – and price per share is around $18 – much less than the $31 from two and a half years ago.

“Private equity firm Silver Lake was reportedly looking at buying Yahoo to spin off its Alibaba stake and just recently announced plans to take a stake directly in Alibaba. So while Yahoo’s board might want a sale, finding a buyer may be difficult,” Forbes reported.

Alibaba has also shown interest in buying Yahoo – a true success story if it happens, given Yahoo invested a billion dollars in Alibaba, six years ago, for a 40 percent interest in the company. The investment is seen as one of the major assets in Yahoo.

Alibaba CEO Jack Ma said “we are very interested in Yahoo because our Alibaba Group is so important to Yahoo, and Yahoo is also very important to us,” Bloomberg noted, though selling a U.S. company to a Chinese firm would draw immense CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States) scrutiny due to national security issues.

Disney is a potential buyer suggested by CNN, as are News Corp., AOL, and others. The Street notes a merger between AOL and Yahoo is also being discussed, with AOL CEO Tim Armstrong touted as the overall CEO (AOL-Yahoo merger speculation is hardly new, and Yahoo quickly debunked this rumor last month).

Is the speculation is true, Yahoo can’t afford to start if they aren’t going to go through with it. The stock can’t survive the drop caused when they stepped away from the Microsoft offer.

As Yahoo moves closer to what appears to be an inevitable sale, it seems former CEO and co-founder Jerry Yang has ‘essentially’ taken control of the company, Business Insider reported. Tim Morse was named the interim CEO, though Yahoo’s board is in the beginning stages of a search for a new CEO – a leader with “consumer experience” who can help sell all or part of Yahoo, or try to turnaround the company, The Wall Street Journal reported. However, Yahoo’s board has also prioritized evaluating a sale over installing a new CEO, the WSJ reported.

Yahoo’s market value is $17 billion. Yahoo reported it gets roughly 700 million unique visitors per month to its various properties and the company remains profitable.

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