Technology Stocks Altaba Inc. (formerly Yahoo)

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From: Sr K6/2/2011 4:23:25 AM
   of 27300
June 2, 2011, 12:58 am

Jack Ma Wants a Smaller Yahoo

Jack Ma, chief executive of Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce company, likened negotiations to resolve a very public feud with his investors, Yahoo and SoftBank, to the United Nations.

“A peace talk is always difficult, always complicated,” he said on stage at the D9 Conference on Wednesday in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

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From: Glenn Petersen7/31/2011 8:12:58 PM
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Yahoo settles with Alibaba:

Yahoo and Alibaba Resolve Dispute Over Alipay

New York Times
July 29, 2011

After a simmering feud that reached soap opera proportions, Yahoo and the Alibaba Group, the Chinese Internet company it partly owns, have reached an agreement over a Chinese payments processing company.

With SoftBank, another major investor in Alibaba, the companies announced on Friday a multipronged deal that guarantees Alibaba certain payments in the event of a public offering of the payments company, Alipay, or another liquidity event.

If Alipay goes public, Alibaba will be paid at least $2 billion but no more than $6 billion, plus certain licensing fees. Under the agreement, Alipay has also agreed to maintain its current relationship with the Chinese online retailer Taobao, one of Alibaba’s top e-commerce companies.

“Over the last few months, we have worked cooperatively with our partners at Yahoo and SoftBank to reach an agreement that serves the interests of all parties,” Jack Ma, Alibaba’s chief executive, said in a statement. “Most importantly, Alipay was able to secure the license it needed to continue operating.”

The resolution is a welcome one for the Alibaba’s investors Yahoo and SoftBank, which have been trying to reach a deal with Alibaba for several months. Last year, Mr. Ma spun Alipay out of Alibaba to secure licenses to operate as an electronic payments platform, amid new regulations in China. The company’s partners cried foul in May of this year, with Yahoo and SoftBank claiming that they had not approved the spinoff and only learned of the deal in March.

The debacle irked investors, who were bothered by Yahoo’s lack of knowledge and the loss of Alipay’s value to Alibaba’s portfolio. David Einhorn, the influential hedge fund manager of Greenlight Capital, dumped his entire stake in Yahoo, saying in a letter to investors that this “wasn’t what we signed up for.”

Yahoo’s 43 percent stake in Alibaba is considered by many to be its crown jewel, worth more than the company’s domestic business, which has struggled against rivals like Google.

“This is a good outcome for Yahoo and for our shareholders, as well as all the parties to this agreement,” Carol Bartz, the chief executive of Yahoo, said in a statement on Friday.

While the agreement resolves a contentious issue, investors remained cautious on Friday. Shares of Yahoo fell nearly 3 percent, or 40 cents, on Friday, and closed at $13.10. “On the face of it, it seems like a good deal for Yahoo, given how acrimonious the relationship with Jack Ma and Carol Bartz had become and how little leverage Yahoo had,” Jordan Rohan, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, said on Friday. But he said the drama also exposed how Yahoo’s fate in Asia is dictated by the whim of Mr. Ma.

“Even if the ownership of the rest of Alibaba group is not altered, the path forward seems to be controlled 100 percent by Jack Ma and his team,” he said.

The heavy hand of China’s government also looms large. Given the country’s strict regulatory environment, analysts raised doubts on Friday that an Alipay offering would come soon or be as lucrative as Yahoo hoped.

“They did not give any clarity on a potential timeline for an I.P.O.,” said Scott Kessler, an analyst with Standard & Poor’s. “The Chinese government also seems focused on domestic ownership for this company, thus making any global I.P.O. unlikely if not impossible.”

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From: Sr K9/7/2011 11:43:50 PM
   of 27300
Bartz May Get $10 Million Payout After Being Fired by Phone as Yahoo CEO

By Brian Womack - Sep 7, 2011 11:03 PM ET

Carol Bartz, who was fired Sept. 6 as Yahoo! Inc.’s chief executive officer, stands to receive a payout in the range of $10 million after less than three years on the job.

Bartz, 63, would have received $10.4 million, including cash and equity, had she been fired at the end of last year, according to a April 29 filing by the company that estimated the payout. In addition, Bartz is still eligible for vesting stock options based on the shares reaching certain milestones in the future.

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From: Sr K9/8/2011 5:09:46 PM
   of 27300

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From: ElMariachi9/8/2011 5:15:05 PM
1 Recommendation   of 27300
It is now being reported that Yang is looking to buy back Yahoo:

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To: ElMariachi who wrote (27029)9/9/2011 7:11:14 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
1 Recommendation   of 27300
Yahoo is officially in play:

Yahoo Is Said to Look to Allen & Co. for Strategic Options

New York Times
September 9, 2011, 12:02 pm
2:47 p.m. | Updated

As it explores options for its future, Yahoo has hired Allen & Company as its investment bank, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The move by Yahoo’s board follows its firing of Carol A. Bartz as chief executive, amid dissatisfaction over the onetime Internet giant’s business performance.

In its news release announcing Ms. Bartz’s ouster on Tuesday, Yahoo disclosed that its board had begun “a comprehensive strategic review” of its businesses. Within the language of the deal community, that phrase generally means possible acquisitions or asset divestitures — or possibly a sale of the whole company.

But people familiar with the board’s actions say that a sale of all of Yahoo is a “nonstarter.” What could be more likely are the sales of Yahoo’s Asian holdings or some of its communications services.

Helping to review those possibilities is Allen & Company, the boutique known as a top consigliere to Internet and media companies. Among its current clients is AOL, itself the subject of takeover rumors.

The bank is also serving a lesser underwriting role for two forthcoming Internet initial public offerings, those of Groupon and Zynga.

Yahoo’s board may also look to hire additional bankers to work alongside Allen & Company. Among the likely candidates is UBS, which is already advising Yahoo on a possible sale of its stake in Yahoo Japan. Another possible candidate is JPMorgan Chase, which could be brought in for its expertise in tech deals and its big balance sheet.

“Yahoo has been working with Allen & Co. and UBS for some time,” a spokesman for the company’s board told DealBook in a statement.

The first task that Allen & Co. may have to deal with is handling unsolicited deal inquiries. AOL’s chief executive, Tim Armstrong, has held discussions with Yahoo advisers about the company’s interest in merging, Bloomberg News reported on Friday.

A person close to Yahoo told DealBook that the company has no interest in merging with AOL, given that it’s another struggling Internet company.

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To: Sr K who wrote (27027)9/11/2011 3:17:23 PM
From: geoffrey Wren
   of 27300
Yahoo has consistently reduced their value to customers over the years. You have new email that truly stinks. You have new portfolio management that stinks. The yahoo news pages has become less useful They used to display local television programming, but stopped. The yahoo calendar froze up so much I opened a google account to get their calendar.

I wonder if Bartz was behind that customer "improvement". I sort of get the impression that no one at Yahoo even notices or cares. I suspect they will go the way of AOL. If they get bought out, you will see some large write-downs is my guess.

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From: Glenn Petersen9/14/2011 7:05:55 PM
   of 27300
Yahoo for Sale: Possible Bidders Circling — Including Marc Andreessen — as Board Pressure Mounts

Kara Swisher
Wall Street Journal
All Things D
September 14, 2011 at 12:28 pm PT

A range of major players interested in acquiring all or a large piece of Yahoo have been prepping possible bids and have been in touch with the Internet giant’s board over the last several days.

While Yahoo has publicly said it was not for sale, according to numerous sources both inside and outside the company, it has been receptive to the interest and its Chairman Roy Bostock and co-founder Jerry Yang have spoken to several.

Among the possible players: Silicon Valley venture firm Andreessen Horowitz, which is working with Silver Lake, in a deal that also might include Russia’s DST and Yahoo’s Japanese partner Masa Son; former News Corp. exec Peter Chernin, who is partnered with Providence Equity Partners; and the possibility that Yahoo’s Chinese partner, Alibaba Group, might consider entering the fray in what could be a merger of sorts.

Also being rung up by some of the parties: Microsoft — Yahoo’s advertising and search partner — which is being seen as a possible moneybags in any deal.

The movement among these investors is against a backdrop of increasing pressure for Yahoo’s board, after it fired CEO Carol Bartz last week. In the wake of the dramatic move, shareholders have upped criticism of Bostock and the board and have been looking hard for alternatives.

Today, that included hedge fund investor Daniel Loeb of Third Point, which has a 5.1 percent stake in Yahoo. In a filing this morning, he said he might increase that amount, and described a testy hour-long phone call he had earlier this week with Bostock that ended abruptly with a hang-up from Yahoo.

Sources said Loeb called Bostock a “fool,” among other not-so-nice names, on the call and asked for Yang’s help in dumping him.

This comes as exactly no surprise, given his previously strong letter in which Loeb called for Bostock’s ouster.

Loeb has been calling out Bostock — who is also on the boards of Morgan Stanley and Delta Airlines — for a series of gaffes at Yahoo since he became chairman in 2008 (he’s been on the board since 2003).

Those have included: Yahoo’s bungled effort to stave off a takeover by Microsoft several years ago; the too-long enthusiasm for CEO Carol Bartz, who was hired in early 2009 and fired last week; sitting unusually still as competitors such as Facebook, Google and more have out-innovated and outgrown Yahoo; and, of course, the falling knife of a stock, which has dropped precipitously since Bostock has been in charge of the board.

As Loeb wrote in a letter he sent to the company last week:

“It is time that certain members of this Board were held accountable for its past failures and their individual roles. Accordingly, we insist that Mr. Bostock, who championed Ms. Bartz’s hiring and led the charge against the Microsoft deal, promptly resign from the Board.”

Loeb is likely to add to that later today at a high-profile investor conference in New York, where the colorful but tough-talking investor is sure to add more logs to the fire.

But he is not the only one. Other major shareholders of Yahoo are also in touch with possible outside buyers, seeking a change at the long-troubled company, after its stock has remained in the doldrums, its attrition rate of employees has spiked and its product pipeline has slowed to a drip.

This has all been taking place — of course — during one of tech’s biggest and most innovative booms, in which Yahoo competitors such as Google, Facebook and others have grown strongly.

Enter Marc Andreessen, the well-known entrepreneur who has transformed himself into one of Silicon Valley’s most powerful venture capitalists.

He and his partner Ben Horowitz recently pulled off a similar deal — with Silver Lake — to take control of a then-troubled Skype. They later flipped it to Microsoft.

Sources familiar with the situation said the pair have become increasingly intrigued by the situation at Yahoo and believe that its assets and brand are still strong, despite its management turmoil in recent years.

One problem is the huge cost of almost any kind of takeover and also the complexity, given that much of Yahoo’s $18.5 billion valuation is due to its Asian assets.

The sale of those shares, as well as the selling off of some of Yahoo’s less core properties, makes for a very complicated situation for anyone.

Said one person looking at the company: “It is one of the more massive hairballs around.”

That is a common sentiment among many of those looking at Yahoo, which has hired Allen & Co. to manage the process.

Also of worry is a bid that would include too many players. Yahoo has long been plagued by indecisiveness on the part of its execs and, mostly, its board.

But one thing all the possible buyers of Yahoo, as well as an increasing number of its shareholders, agree on: The Yahoo board needs a major shake-up.

As Loeb wrote last week, which many I interviewed also echoed:

“This letter details our principled demands for sweeping changes in both the Board of Directors (the “Board”) and Company leadership, and outlines the hidden value of Yahoo, which has been severely damaged — but not irreparably — by poor management and governance.”

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From: Glenn Petersen10/23/2011 9:12:11 AM
   of 27300
Google, Private-Equity Firms Mull Bid For Yahoo

Wall Street Journal
October 23, 2011, 12:59 A.M ET

Google Inc. has talked to at least two private equity firms about potentially helping them finance a deal to buy Yahoo Inc.'s core business, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Google and prospective partners have held early-stage discussions but haven't put together a formal proposal and Google may end up not pursuing a bid, this person said. It's unclear which private equity firms Google has talked to.

Any deal tying two of the biggest Internet companies would be sure to attract antitrust scrutiny.

Federal antitrust lawyers in 2008 thwarted a Web-search advertising partnership between the companies. A year later Yahoo signed a 10-year search partnership with Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft is now considering financing part of a bid for Yahoo by a private equity firm, people familiar with the matter have said.

Yahoo declined to comment.

Yahoo's board of directors fired Chief Executive Carol Bartz in September, and the company has since been shopping itself to potential buyers such as private equity firms. Such firms could take Yahoo off the public markets and try to turn around its business. Yahoo hasn't been able to increase revenue even as the Internet ad market grows by more than 20% annually.

Google is interested in selling some advertising across Yahoo's websites--something Yahoo largely does on its own today--according to people familiar with the matter.

Any deal involving Google could also bring other opportunities, such as bring Google's social networking service Google+ to Yahoo's audience of nearly 700 million unique visitors a month, these people said.

Yahoo also has relationships with many "premium" content publishers such as ABC News, which provides video and other content for Yahoo sites and for which Yahoo currently sells ads. Google is interested in having deeper business relationships with such publishers, one of these people said.

Google's interest in participating in the Yahoo sale discussions could also be partly an attempt to bid up prices to make matters more difficult for competitors such as Microsoft, said a person familiar with the matter. Such a tactic is standard competitive practice.

Google wants to help sell the ad space across Yahoo sites as Yahoo has struggled to get good prices for it, people familiar with the matter said. Yahoo's display-ad business—which includes graphical, interactive and video ads—is a $2 billion annual business.

Yahoo has faced challenges in selling display ads due to competition from social network Facebook Inc., video site Hulu LLC and others. Yahoo generates more than 30% of its display-ad revenue by selling lower-priced display ads for less-desirable real estate on its sites through its automated exchange, called Right Media, which matches buyers and sellers of ads.

Google has its DoubleClick ad exchange, which is attracting a growing number of advertisers and websites at the expense of Right Media. Industry experts said Yahoo's ad space is "undermonetized," meaning it could generate more money if Yahoo invested more in its technology or potentially placed the inventory on DoubleClick, among other things.

Google executives in the past have talked to Yahoo about such a partnership, said people familiar with the matter.

For now, Yahoo is trying to put together a partnership with Microsoft, AOL Inc., and other publishers of online content to pool ad space together into one marketplace to challenge DoubleClick, people familiar with the matter have said. It's unclear whether the partnership will come to fruition, or how long it would take to complete.
Google has long been the No. 1 player in Web search. But in the display-ad market, Google is a smaller--but growing--player. In the U.S., Facebook is expected to generate more than $2 billion in net revenue from display advertising this year, with Yahoo generating $1.6 billion and Google generating $1.1 billion, according to eMarketer.

Write to Amir Efrati at

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From: Glenn Petersen12/21/2011 9:07:17 PM
   of 27300
Yahoo to Consider Sale of Asian Assets

New York Times
December 21, 2011, 3:25 pm
8:18 p.m. Updated

The board of Yahoo is considering a sale of the bulk of the company’s valuable holdings in the Alibaba Group of China and Yahoo’s Japanese affiliate back to their majority owners in a complicated transaction that values the stakes at about $17 billion, according to people briefed on the matter.

Yahoo’s board is expected to meet Thursday to discuss the broad outlines of the offer. If directors approve the plan, they may also decide to reject separate investment proposals by Silver Lake and TPG Capital that would have given control of the company to the private equity firms and Yahoo’s management, said some of these people, who, like the others contacted for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity.

By reducing its investments in Asia — which many investors had considered the company’s crown jewels — Yahoo would get a big cash infusion at a time when it was trying to revive its core United States operations, which have long suffered from declining revenue and an exodus of senior employees. While Yahoo has failed to keep up with the surging popularity of Internet rivals like Facebook, it still runs one of the most popular portals on the Web, with more than 113 million users a month.

The proposal values Yahoo’s 40 percent in Alibaba at about $12 billion and its 35 percent stake in Yahoo Japan at about $5 billion. It could be executed either as a stand-alone deal or alongside a minority investment in Yahoo by Silver Lake or TPG.

Yahoo is expected to keep a 15 percent stake in Alibaba, allowing it to hold on to a piece of the fast-growing Chinese Internet company, one of the people briefed on the matter said.

While the stakes in the two companies have long been seen as attractive, any deal has faced hurdles. The Asian partners have rights that effectively control to whom Yahoo can sell its holdings. And an outright sale would have significant tax implications.

But the proposed deal — called a tax-free cash-rich split — would not be considered a sale under Internal Revenue Service guidelines but rather a kind of asset swap, allowing Yahoo and its Asian partners to avoid taxes.

Under the terms of the deal, Alibaba and Softbank, Yahoo Japan’s majority owner, would create new subsidiaries that would consist of both cash and operating assets that Yahoo would like to run. Yahoo would then swap out most of its stake in Alibaba and all of its stake in Yahoo Japan for these subsidiaries, effectively selling those holdings.

The deal is valued at close to $14 a Yahoo share, the people briefed on the matter said.

Shares of Yahoo, which had been trading lower for most of Wednesday, jumped after the proposed deal was first reported. The stock closed up 5.8 percent, at $15.99.

Although Yahoo’s board may still choose to reject the offer or delay its approval, momentum seems to be building for a deal with its Asian partners, which could be completed in about a month.

A deal would be another significant shift in strategy by Yahoo, which has changed course several times since it abruptly ousted its chief executive, Carol A. Bartz, in September. In recent months, the board has entertained approaches from a broad swath of suitors.

Just a few weeks ago, the company appeared to be leaning toward the sale of a minority stake to private equity investors. Separate groups led by Silver Lake and TPG made bids to acquire stakes of roughly 20 percent, with Silver Lake offering about $16.60 a share and TPG about $1 a share more, two people briefed on the matter previously said. Both proposals involved a share buyback and an alignment with stakes owned by Yahoo’s co-founders, Jerry Yang and David Filo, that would effectively give the winning group majority control.

Despite initial support by the board, those proposals have been harshly criticized by shareholders, who are concerned that such a deal would dilute their holdings and concentrate too much power with a new investor group.

Against this backdrop, Yahoo restarted talks three weeks ago with Alibaba and Softbank, which had submitted an initial proposal in October. During the negotiations, the two sides agreed to raise the valuation of the Asian assets and to let Yahoo hold on to a small piece of Alibaba, one of these people said. Alibaba executives, including its chief financial officer, Joseph Tsai, have been in New York since Sunday to handle negotiations, two people said.

Spokesmen for Yahoo and Alibaba declined to comment.

Yahoo’s board has not yet dismissed the proposals from Silver Lake and TPG, according to some of the people briefed on the matter, but it will most likely pursue an independent path if it accepts the offer from Alibaba and Softbank. Some on Yahoo’s board say they believe the company will be better positioned — once it gets a cash infusion — to appoint a new chief executive and reconfigure its board.

Still, two of these people warned that no outcome was certain because the board had been splintered on several issues throughout the process, including Yahoo’s identity and how it should operate in the future.

But a failure by the board to reach a consensus could goad Yahoo’s Asian partners into going hostile. Both Alibaba and Softbank are keen to reclaim the stakes. Should the board reject the deal for the Asian holdings, the two companies are prepared to bid for all of Yahoo in conjunction with private equity partners, one of the people briefed on the matter said.

While Yahoo, Alibaba and Softbank have been closely linked since 2005, their relationship has often been tense. This summer, Alibaba settled a dispute on Alipay, an online payments company that Alibaba’s chief, Jack Ma, spun out of Alibaba last year, without clear approval from Yahoo and Softbank.

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