By Heather Clancy
July 19, 2016

This is the deal that never ends. On Monday, Yahoo was set to take final bids on the auction of its “core” business, which means all or most of Yahoo, minus its stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan. The auction has dragged on all year, stalled, in the beginning, by CEO Marissa Mayer’s apparent reluctance to sell the company. (A sale would likely mean she’s out of a job.)

Mayer provided no updates on the sale process Monday during Yahoo’s quarterly earnings report. After 20 years as an independent public company, that earnings call may be Yahoo’s last. (Results were mixed: The company beat revenue expectations but missed on earnings per share and wrote down its $1.1 billion acquisition of Tumblr to next to nothing).

That Yahoo may no longer exist as an independent, publicly traded company comes as little surprise to anyone. Yahoo has been in decline for a decade. When Mayer took the job, everyone said, “If Marissa can’t do it, no one can.” Activist investors have decided no one can.

“Doing it” probably would have included a speedy, leak-free sales process. It’s telling that it has taken Yahoo six months and countless incremental media leaks for a deal that’ll likely end up in the $3 billion to $6 billion range.

Contrast that with Monday’s other big deal: SoftBank Group agreed to acquire ARM Holdings for $32 billion. That deal came together, leak-free, in just two weeks.

More relevant to Yahoo, the SoftBank-ARM deal finally puts to rest rumors that SoftBank, which, like Yahoo, owns significant stakes in Yahoo Japan and Alibaba, would step in to save Yahoo. (It also kills rumors that SoftBank might buy Twitter.) But SoftBank was probably never going to do what everyone expected it to do.

The ARM deal is the kind of deal SoftBank’s enigmatic founder and CEO Masayoshi Son is known for: the exact opposite of what the world expects. Setting aside the company’s massive debt load, the deal makes sense, as Fortune’s David Meyer explained Monday. But the best part, for me, was the element of surprise. Nobody saw it coming.

Erin Griffith is a senior writer at Fortune. Reach her via email.


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