Daily Mail Parent Confirms Yahoo Talks

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The Daily Mail’s publisher is in talks with private equity firms that could help finance a buyout of the troubled web pioneer

The parent company of The Daily Mail has confirmed it is in talks with unnamed third parties over a possible takeover of US internet pioneer Yahoo.

Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), which owns the tabloid and its popular online news portal, said it was exploring a Yahoo acquisition as a way of building on a campaign of expansion in the US it began with the buyout of news site Elite Daily early last year.

‘A number of parties’

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“Given the success of DailyMail.com and Elite Daily, we have been in discussions with a number of parties who are potential bidders (for Yahoo)”, DMGT said in a statement.

It added that discussions are at a “very early stage” and that there’s no certainty a transaction will take place, declining to give further details or to identify the parties with which it’s in discussions.

Besides buying Elite Daily, a youth-oriented culture website, DMGT is also moving into syndicated television in the US with a news show.

DMTG is not looking for a straightforward buyout, but is looking to structure a possible deal one of two ways that would allow it to integrate Yahoo’s media units, according to reports by Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal, both of which cited unnamed people familiar with the matter.

One scenario would see DMTG taking full control of Yahoo’s news and media properties after a private equity group acquired the overall Internet company. Those properties include Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Sports and a video production operation featuring well-known journalist Katie Couric as anchor.

Another option would be for a private equity group to acquire Yahoo, then spin off the media properties into a new company that would also integrate DMTG’s online operations, and in which DMTG would have a controlling stake.

Yahoo’s money woes

The Wall Street Journal, which reported DMTG’s interest in Yahoo on Sunday, said DMTG was in talks with “half a dozen” private equity firms.

Yahoo commands a substantial web audience of around one billion people, but difficulty competing for advertising revenues with the likes of Google has meant its core web operations are now valued on the market as virtually worthless. Yahoo’s current market capitalisation of $38bn (£27bn) largely reflects investor interest in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan.

Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer, who took over in 2012, launched a strategic review in February that included exploring sale options, cutting 15 percent of the company’s overall workforce and closing five overseas offices and seven digital magazines.

The company is understood to be seeking a private equity firm to buy out its core web units, with a publisher taking over the news and media operations.

Yahoo has been briefing prospective buyers, who are reported to include Verizon, Google parent Alphabet and Time Inc. The company has set an 18 April deadline for preliminary bids.

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