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Verizon tops list of Yahoo suitors as others reportedly bow out

Some tech and media firms that initially expressed interest in the struggling portal won't be placing bids after all, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The end of an independent Yahoo draws closer.
Richard Nieva/CNET

Verizon has reportedly emerged as the leading suitor for Yahoo as other companies take themselves out of the running.

With a preliminary deadline later on Monday, Verizon was among a handful of companies likely to make a bid for the Internet portal out of an initial 40 or so that originally seemed interested, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing people familiar with the process. An array of suitors had been considering bids for either the entire company or certain parts, most notably its Web business.

Among those dropping out: Time, which sees fixing Yahoo as too difficult, a person familiar with the situation told the Journal. Other companies that have left the process include Google parent Alphabet, Comcast, AT&T and IAC/InterActiveCorp, people familiar with the matter said to the Journal.

Verizon, Yahoo, AT&T and Alphabet declined to comment. Comcast and IAC didn't respond to requests for comment.

Once an Internet giant, Yahoo has been trying to revive its flagging fortunes. CEO Marissa Mayer has sharpened Yahoo's focus on mobile sites and services, but the efforts have failed to excite consumers or shareholders. That has prompted the board of directors to explore options beyond the attempted turnaround, including a possible sale.

A takeover of Yahoo would be a gamble. The company's web operations, which include its search portal, email service and online advertising technology, have seen big drops in sales and earnings. Potential bidders have also run into roadblocks from Yahoo's managers, who have failed to fully answer questions about the company's prospects, the Journal reported.

Despite the challenges, a Verizon takeover of Yahoo takeover could complement the company's $4.4 billion acquisition of AOL in 2015. Owning both Yahoo and AOL would help Verizon in its quest to focus on mobile video services and online advertising as it tries to transform from a telecom carrier into more of a media conglomerate.

The price tag may be high, though. Yahoo's core Internet business could fetch between $4 billion and $8 billion, people familiar with the process told the Journal.