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Verizon Set To Make Yahoo’s Bidder Short List

April 20, 2016, 12:50 AM UTC
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LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 07: Yahoo! President and CEO Marissa Mayer delivers a keynote address at the 2014 International CES at The Las Vegas Hotel & Casino on January 7, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 10 and is expected to feature 3,200 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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(Reuters) – Verizon was set on Tuesday to advance to the second stage of bidding for Yahoo Inc’s core assets, as the U.S. internet company went through offers to put together a short list, people familiar with the matter said.

Verizon submitted its offer with advice from investment banks Guggenheim Partners, LionTree and Allen & Company, the people said on Tuesday. The U.S. telecommunications company will face competition in the second round from other companies and private equity firms, the people added.

On Tuesday evening, Yahoo’s advisers were still reviewing the preliminary offers received on Monday. The auction attracted a diverse array of companies ranging from Japanese online retailer Rakuten to Yellow Pages owner YP, which is backed by AT&T, the people said.

Apax Partners, TPG Capital, Bain Capital, Apollo Global Management and Warburg Pincus were among the private equity firms that submitted first-round bids, the people said. Yahoo may decide to allow buyout firms to team up in the second round, the people added.

The field had whittled down ahead of Monday’s first-round bid deadline as several companies that were mulling an offer, including Comcast (ETB) and Time (TIME), decided to opt out, the people said.

No two offers submitted were identical, and Yahoo is deciding which proposed structures and assets to be divested offer the best potential value, the people said. The company hopes the auction can conclude by June, but the timing could sleep, the people said.

Softbank Group, which owns 43% of Yahoo Japan, and Alibaba Group (BABA), in which Yahoo holds a 15.5% stake, have not participated in the auction, but may engage with the U.S. company once the future of its core internet assets becomes clear, the people said.

The sources asked not to be identified because the details of the sale process are confidential. Representatives of Yahoo (YHOO), Verizon (VZ), YP, Comcast, Time and the private equity firms declined to comment. Rakuten, Softbank, Alibaba, Guggenheim, LionTree and Allen & Company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Yahoo, under pressure from shareholders including activist hedge fund Starboard Value, launched an auction of its core business in February after it shelved plans to spin off its stake in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba.

Analysts see Verizon, which bought AOL last year for $4.4 billion, as being a more likely candidate to prevail in the auction for Yahoo’s web business.

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On Yahoo’s first-quarter earnings call on Tuesday, Chief Executive Marissa Mayer said Yahoo management had been “running a quality process designed to keep interested parties engaged.”

“Over the past two months, (Chief Financial Officer Ken Goldman) and I and the rest of the management team have spent time in person and on the phone with interested participants, including some of the most well-known, respected names in the industry,” Mayer said.