After talking with an unnamed "large Yahoo shareholder that is preparing a presentation" featuring a similar thesis, fund manager Eric Jackson thinks there's a good chance Alibaba (Pending:BABA) or SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBF) will acquire Yahoo (YHOO +3.3%).
His reasoning: Whereas the value of Yahoo's stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan (OTCPK:YAHOF) are currently discounted for future tax payments, the pre-tax valuations are what matter to Alibaba and SoftBank. The former would be buying back a 22.5% pre-IPO stake in itself, and the latter would be adding to its respective 34.3% and 43% stakes in Alibaba and YJ.
Jackson estimates Yahoo's assets are worth $56/share to either acquirer - he values the post-IPO Alibaba stake at $33, the YJ stake at $9, and Yahoo's core business at $5, and adds $9 for cash (inc. IPO share sales).
He speculates Alibaba (were it the buyer) could trade the YJ stake to SoftBank for part of its Alibaba stake (adding to the scope of its buyback), and notes new SoftBank Internet/media chief Nikesh Arora reportedly wanted to buy Yahoo while at Google.
One caveat: Acquiring Yahoo would give SoftBank a 56.8% stake in Alibaba before factoring IPO dilution. The Chinese government likely wouldn't be pleased with that. Jackson suggests SoftBank could trade part of its Alibaba stake post-acquisition for "something of similar value," but doesn't say what.
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