Verizon Communications made it official Monday, agreeing to purchase Yahoo for $4.83 billion in cash, ending a long period of uncertainty for the Internet icon.
Speculation had been high that Verizon would win the bidding for Yahoo ever since it went on the auction block earlier this year. Yesterday, reports said a deal would be announced early Monday.
The deal will add to Verizon’s stable of historic Intenet names – in 2015 it purchased online pioneer AOL for about $4.4 billion.
“Just over a year ago we acquired AOL to enhance our strategy of providing a cross-screen connection for consumers, creators and advertisers,” Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam said in a statement. The acquisition of Yahoo will put Verizon in a highly competitive position as a top global mobile media company, and help accelerate our revenue stream in digital advertising.”
Yahoo will be integrated with AOL under Marni Walden, EVP and President of the Product Innovation and New Businesses organization at Verizon.
“Yahoo is a company that has changed the world, and will continue to do so through this combination with Verizon and AOL,” Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said in a statement. The sale of our operating business, which effectively separates our Asian asset equity stakes, is an important step in our plan to unlock shareholder value for Yahoo. This transaction also sets up a great opportunity for Yahoo to build further distribution and accelerate our work in mobile, video, native advertising and social.”
Combined, AOL and Yahoo will have more than 25 brands in its portfolio for continued investment and growth. Yahoo’s key assets include market-leading premium content brands in major categories including finance, news and sports, as well as one of the most popular email services globally with approximately 225 million monthly active users. Additional technology assets in the advertising space include Brightroll, a programmatic demand-side platform; Flurry, an independent mobile apps analytics service; and Gemini, a native and search advertising solution.
“Our mission at AOL is to build brands people love, and we will continue to invest in and grow them. Yahoo has been a long-time investor in premium content and created some of the most beloved consumer brands in key categories like sports, news and finance,” AOL CEO Tim Armstrong said in a statement.
Under Armstrong, AOL has invested in and grown global premium brands, including The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget, MAKERS and AOL.com, and programmatic platforms like ONE by AOL for both advertisers and publishers.
“We have enormous respect for what Yahoo has accomplished: this transaction is about unleashing Yahoo’s full potential, building upon our collective synergies, and strengthening and accelerating that growth,” Armstrong added in his statement. “Combining Verizon, AOL and Yahoo will create a new powerful competitive rival in mobile media, and an open, scaled alternative offering for advertisers and publishers.”
The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017. Until the closing, Yahoo will continue to operate independently.
The sale does not include Yahoo’s cash, its shares in Alibaba Group Holdings, its shares in Yahoo Japan, Yahoo’s convertible notes, certain minority investments, and Yahoo’s non-core patents (called the Excalibur portfolio). These assets will continue to be held by Yahoo, which will change its name at closing and become a registered, publicly traded investment company. Yahoo will provide additional information about the investment company at a future date.
Yahoo intends to return substantially all of its net cash to shareholders and will determine and communicate a specific capital return strategy at an appropriate time.
LionTree Advisors, LLC, Allen & Company LLC, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Guggenheim Securities, LLC are acting as financial advisors to Verizon. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Covington & Burling LLP and Winston & Strawn LLP are acting as legal advisors to Verizon.
Goldman, Sachs & Co., J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and PJT Partners are acting as financial advisors to the Yahoo Board and its Strategic Review Committee. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP are acting as legal advisors to Yahoo. Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is independent legal advisor to Yahoo’s Strategic Review Committee.