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Yahoo may be on the brink of breaking up

We just spotted this interesting piece in The Economist:


In “GULLIVER’S TRAVELS” the Yahoos are primitive, coarse creatures who cannot be civilised. The internet company of the same name looks equally hopeless. Yesterday its board began meetings, expected to last through Friday, to decide its fate.

Marissa Mayer, the chief executive who arrived from Google in 2012 to revive Yahoo, had planned to spin off its valuable shares in Alibaba, a Chinese internet firm, only to discover in September that this might result in a huge tax bill. An activist investor, Starboard Value, has pressed Yahoo to ditch its core internet business instead. It accounts for a Lilliputian $2 billion or so of Yahoo’s total enterprise value of about $29 billion.

Several types of buyers might give Yahoo a close look, including private-equity firms and media or telecoms firms. In spite of its troubles, Yahoo still has one of the largest audiences on the internet.

However, if Yahoo spins off or sells its core business, there is less need for Ms Mayer to stay. At first she attracted young talent to Yahoo, but she has not returned the firm to growth in the way that many had hoped she would. Recently a number of executives have left the company, and those that remain must be losing hope that the firm can turn itself around. Ms Mayer has been a star CEO, garnering heaps of press attention and a large pay package, which last year amounted to an estimated $42m. It may now be time for her to travel to another destination.

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