Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Softbank Corp. (9984) are in advanced talks with Blackstone Group LP (BX) and Bain Capital LLC about making a bid for all of Yahoo! Inc., said three people with knowledge of the matter.
A bid may value Yahoo at more than $20 a share because of tax savings tied to the Internet company’s stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan, said two of the people, who declined to be identified because the discussions are private. Yahoo shares advanced 6.9 percent to $16.79 in extended trading.
Yahoo’s board is meeting to discuss offers it received for a minority stake in the Sunnyvale, California-based company from bidders including TPG Capital and a group led by Silver Lake, people familiar with the matter said this week. Silver Lake’s bid valued Yahoo at about $16.60 a share, these people said. TPG Capital’s offer was higher, they said.
Some Yahoo investors say they would prefer the company be sold in its entirety, at a higher price. “It definitely has to be much higher than $16.60,” said Di Zhou, a Santa Fe, New Mexico-based analyst at Thornburg Investment Management, which oversees about $80 billion in assets, including Yahoo shares.
While the Alibaba group has prepared financing for a possible offer, it hasn’t decided on a final price or whether to proceed, the people said. The group would prefer to be invited to bid rather than going hostile, one person said. Alibaba hasn’t informed Yahoo of its possible bid, this person said.
No Decision Yet?
“Alibaba Group has not made a decision to be part of a whole-company bid for Yahoo,” John Spelich, a spokesman for Hangzhou, China-based Alibaba, said in an e-mailed statement.
At $20 a share, Yahoo would be valued at 24.1 times earnings in the past 12 months, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That would compare with 20.4 times for Google Inc. (GOOG) and a ratio of 9.5 for Microsoft Corp.
Yahoo shares rose 1 cent to $15.71 yesterday at the close in New York. The stock has fallen 5.5 percent this year.
The $20 price tag would undervalue the company because its Asian assets have so much growth potential, said Thornburg’s Zhou, who puts the value at about $25 a share. Yahoo, the largest U.S. Internet portal, owns about 40 percent of Alibaba, the top e-commerce site in China, and 35 percent of Yahoo Japan.
Zhou wants to see Yahoo hold on to the Alibaba stake until the Chinese company can hold an initial public offering, providing a windfall to investors.
“Chinese Internet penetration and e-commerce is going well,” she said. “It should be more valuable by the day.”