Jerry Yang eyeing buyout of Yahoo, report says

The Yahoo co-founder is interested in a deal with private equity firms, according to Reuters, though talks have only been informal to this point.

Yahoo headquarters
Yahoo

One certainty about Yahoo these days is uncertainty, especially when it comes to who might take control of the company in the coming weeks and months.

The latest surmise, via the Reuters news agency, citing people familiar with the situation, is that Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang is looking to take the company private.

Yang, Reuters says, is interested in a deal with private equity firms in which Yang would roll over his approximately 3.6 percent stake in Yahoo. Fellow co-founder David Filo might also chip in his roughly 5.9 percent stake, according to the news agency, citing other sources close to Yahoo.

But any talks have only been informal to this point and have not yet reached a stage to bring Yahoo into direct negotiations, though Yahoo's advisers are expected this week to send financial information to interested parties, according to Reuters' various sources.

In one scenario envisioned by Reuters' sources, Yahoo would sell off its international assets, pay off debt, and then focus on its U.S. operations.

The price could be right these days for a buyout or a takeover. Yahoo's shares closed at $15.47 on Friday, up from a low of $11.09 on August 8 but off from their six-month high of $18.65 on May 6. Those levels are well off from the stock price of a few years back when Microsoft was trying to acquire Yahoo for first $31, then $33 per share --a takeover attempt that Yang was instrumental in blocking.

The fate of Yahoo, one of the most storied companies of the Web's first phase, is in quite a state of flux. Reports of potential buyers have been rampant in recent weeks. Those said to be interested in taking over Yahoo include Silver Lake and China's Alibaba , venture capitalists Andreessen Horowitz , and even, once again, Microsoft .

In late September, a leaked memo from Yang lent credence to the perception that Yahoo was shopping itself around, in whole or in pieces.

Adding to the uncertainty is the in-between state of Yahoo's top leadership. Carol Bartz was ousted as CEO in early September, and Yahoo's chief financial officer, Tim Morse, has been serving as interim CEO.

About the author

Jonathan Skillings is managing editor of CNET News, based in the Boston bureau. He's been with CNET since 2000, after a decade in tech journalism at the IDG News Service, PC Week, and an AS/400 magazine. He's also been a soldier and a schoolteacher, and will always be a die-hard fan of jazz, the brassier the better.

 

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