Verizon and Yahoo! both formally announced that the two companies have entered into a definitive agreement under which Verizon will acquire Yahoo’s operating business for approximately $4.83 billion in cash. The deal is subject to customary closing adjustments but is expected to finalize over the next few weeks.
Yahoo is home to just about 1 billion monthly active users, which also including 600 million monthly active mobile users, according to the company. These users are from Yahoo’s search engine, and the company’s communications and digital content products. Yahoo also connects advertisers with target audiences through a streamlined advertising technology stack that combines the power of their data, content and technology.
Lowell McAdam, Verizon Chairman and CEO, said: “Just over a year ago we acquired AOL to enhance our strategy of providing a cross-screen connection for consumers, creators and advertisers. 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.
Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, said: “Yahoo is a company that has changed the world, and will continue to do so through this combination with Verizon and AOL. 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.”
Mayer added, “Yahoo and AOL popularized the Internet, email, search and real-time media. It’s poetic to be joining forces with AOL and Verizon as we enter our next chapter focused on achieving scale on mobile. We have a terrific, loyal, experienced and quality team, and I couldn’t be prouder of our achievements to date, including building our new lines of business to $1.6 billion in GAAP revenue in 2015. I’m excited to extend our momentum through this transaction.”
Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL, said: “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.”
Under Armstrong, AOL has invested in and grown global premium brands, including The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget, MAKERS and AOL.com, and market-leading programmatic platforms — including ONE by AOL for both advertisers and publishers.
Armstrong added, “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. 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 addition of Yahoo to Verizon and AOL will create one of the largest portfolios of owned and partnered global brands with extensive distribution capabilities. 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.
The deal is subject to customary closing conditions, approval by Yahoo’s shareholders, and regulatory approvals, and is expected to close in Q1 of 2017. Until the closing, Yahoo will continue to operate independently, offering and improving its own products and services for users, advertisers, developers and partners. Verizon will generally issue cash-settled Verizon RSUs for Yahoo RSUs that are outstanding at the close.
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.