Mergers & acquisitions

Verizon, Softbank Likely Yahoo Contenders

After Yahoo extended its deadline to receive takeover bids to Monday, April 18, Verizon and Softbank are emerging as the two most likely contenders.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) has already explicitly said it is interested in adding Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO)'s operations to its AOL operations. And SoftBank Corp. is currently doing business with Yahoo, the New York Post reports.

Private equity firms Bain Capital and TPG are also reportedly interested. Microsoft, which attempted to buy Yahoo in 2008, is showing no outward signs of being interested. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) are two others with both the wherewithal to buy Yahoo and operations that Yahoo might fit into, but neither is showing much outward interest. Time Inc. is said to be considering a bid. Much of this was reported by Bloomberg. None of these companies are commenting. (See Investors Question Yahoo's Spinoff Intentions)

Yahoo may be struggling as a standalone company, but its investments in Yahoo Japan and in Alibaba in China are highly valuable, its websites still attract a tremendous amount of traffic and its advertising platform is considered effective.

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The latter two factors play into each other. Yahoo's latest turnaround plan explicitly aims to exploit those features, with the expectation that there is a growth opportunity in the mobile advertising space.

What Yahoo doesn't have is its own broadband distribution. Verizon and Softbank both do. Verizon's justification for buying AOL last year was to increase its combination of users, ad potential and access.

The relationship between traffic and advertising is what Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has been exploiting so very successfully. It might be no coincidence, then, that key figures at each of the three companies involved -- Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer, Verizon AOL head Tim Armstrong and Softbank CEO Nikesh Arora -- all came from Google and have first-hand experience of the value of being able to serve ads to large numbers of people.

— Brian Santo, Senior Editor, Components, T&M, Light Reading

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