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  • Jun. 26, 2015, 3:24 PM
    • While Verizon (NYSE:VZ) closed on its $4.4B deal for AOL on Tuesday, not every investor is settling for the $50/share price.
    • About 60% of AOL shares were tendered. And at least 5% of shareholdings weren't sold to Verizon and their investors are seeking appraisal on the shares -- where a judge awards a higher price for the shares, and which they can do for a few months before they could abandon the plan and accept the deal.
    • Appraisal requests are growing as an investing tactic after a record 40 cases were filed last year (and 28 so far this year).
    • Objecting funds include Brigade Capital Management and Verition Fund Management. With AOL shares trading above $50 the past few weeks, some buyers were likely funds that intended to seek appraisal.
    | Jun. 26, 2015, 3:24 PM | 2 Comments
  • Jun. 23, 2015, 10:06 AM
    • Just 42 days after announcing a deal, Verizon (VZ +0.8%) has wrapped its $50/share cash acquisition of AOL, as its tender offer expired at midnight last night.
    • AOL will no longer be traded on the NYSE and is a wholly owned subsidiary of the telecom. Some 60.4% of shares were validly tendered, and other shares have been converted into a $50 cash right.
    • Tim Armstrong will continue to lead AOL operations, but now by reporting to Marni Walden, Verizon's executive VP of product innovation and new businesses. Bob Toohey, president of Verizon Digital Media Services, will report to Armstrong.
    • Previously: Verizon CFO: We're keeping Huffington Post, not buying Dish Network (Jun. 15 2015)
    • Previously: AOL chief to net $179M from Verizon deal (May. 14 2015)
    • Previously: Not the old AOL: Verizon purchase all about ads (May. 12 2015)
    | Jun. 23, 2015, 10:06 AM | 6 Comments
  • Jun. 18, 2015, 12:51 PM
    • In another sign of content assets staying put at Verizon (VZ +1%) after its deal for AOL is complete, Arianna Huffington says she's signed a new four-year deal to stay at the helm of the Huffington Post.
    • “After all my meetings and conversations with Tim [Armstrong] and the Verizon leadership, I am convinced that we will have both the editorial independence and the additional resources that will allow HuffPost to lead the global media platform shift to mobile and video,” Huffington reportedly says in a memo to staff.
    • As Verizon agreed to a $4.4B deal to buy AOL last month, speculation centered on whether the telecom would keep content assets like Huffington Post and TechCrunch.
    | Jun. 18, 2015, 12:51 PM | 1 Comment
  • Jun. 15, 2015, 7:30 PM
    | Jun. 15, 2015, 7:30 PM | 5 Comments
  • May 26, 2015, 3:39 PM
    • After Verizon (NYSE:VZ) went to AOL to talk deal last year -- talks that were ultimately successful in a $4.4B merger agreement -- it was approached by three other (unnamed) firms regarding an acquisition, newly filed documents show.
    • Verizon had been thinking about a joint venture in order to get its hand on ad tech for its mobile video plans before going for the whole acquisition, the filings show.
    • Along the way AOL had thought about selling off "brand assets" (Huffington Post, TechCrunch), and the fate of those sites is still an open question.
    • AOL chief Tim Armstrong got a special Founders' Incentive Award of 1.5% of company market value at the time of the deal's completion (at a current $3.9B, a bonus of about $59M) -- though he holds options and shares that would bring him $179M and up.
    • 14D-9 filing
    | May 26, 2015, 3:39 PM | 2 Comments
  • May 12, 2015, 3:44 PM
    • After earnings last week, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong pointed out how programmatic ads were key to the company's growth -- and now they're the key to its $4.4B acquisition by a video-focused Verizon (NYSE:VZ).
    • For Verizon, the timing and focus will be on an upcoming video service that is likely to focus on shorter clips rather than long shows (in keeping with their stated target of mobile-viewing millennials) and would combine key assets in the OnCue service it bought from Intel and the ad-insertion tech that AOL provides. The benefit would come in faster, better ad sales. AOL's Platforms unit grew revenues 21% to $279.8M.
    • Wells Fargo's Jennifer Fritzsche points out the difference between Verizon's strategy and that of AT&T: "While T believes there is a greater need to own more physical infrastructure (through DTV), VZ is building up more assets to strengthen its 'mobile first' OTT initiative -– with advertising playing a key role."
    • Verizon's approach to video is cheaper, too, notes Andrew Dowell in comparing a 4.4B AOL deal with a $49B DirecTV deal: "Verizon is going after millennials. AT&T has its eye on their parents."
    • Meanwhile, Macquarie has downgraded Verizon to Underperform, from Neutral, with a new price target of $45. Shares today are trading down 0.4% to $49.61; AOL is up 18.5% to $50.47.
    | May 12, 2015, 3:44 PM | 9 Comments
  • May 12, 2015, 11:23 AM
    • AOL (AOL +18.7%) has been negotiating with multiple parties to spin off The Huffington Post amid its talks to sell itself to Verizon (VZ -0.6%) for $4.4B, Re/code reports.
    • AOL bought The Huffington Post in February 2011 for $315M, and talks about spinning it off circle around a valuation of $1B, likely structured as a joint venture rather than an outright sale.
    • "We've seen a lot of interest in the content brands we have," AOL CEO Tim Armstrong told Kara Swisher, though AOL's other content properties (including sites like TechCrunch) are reportedly not part of these talks.
    • For Verizon's part, to the extent the deal is also about sourcing video content for its streaming ambitions, HuffPost Live (the all-day video streaming network) has shown significant growth since its 2012 launch, and the company has pressed applications to bring it to conventional TV in Canada.
    • Previously: Verizon scoops up AOL for $4.4B (May. 12 2015)
    | May 12, 2015, 11:23 AM
  • May 12, 2015, 7:08 AM
    • The $50 per share deal will take the form of a tender offer followed by a merger, with AOL becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Verizon (NYSE:VZ). AOL chief Tim Armstrong will continue to lead the company after the deal closes.
    • "Verizon's acquisition further drives its LTE wireless video and OTT (over-the-top video) strategy. The agreement will also support and connect to Verizon's IoT (Internet of Things) platforms, creating a growth platform from wireless to IoT for consumers and businesses," says the company.
    • Closing is expected this summer.
    • AOL +18% premarket to $50.25, VZ -0.95%
    | May 12, 2015, 7:08 AM | 65 Comments
  • Jan. 8, 2015, 11:39 AM
    • Though Marissa Mayer (NASDAQ:YHOO) is reportedly uninterested in a deal and Tim Armstrong (NYSE:AOL) has dismissed the M&A speculation swirling around his company, activist Starboard Value is once more reiterating its call for a Yahoo/AOL merger.
    • Starboard argues a merger would yield cost synergies of $1B-$1.5B/year, help Yahoo carry out "a tax-efficient separation" of its Alibaba/Yahoo Japan stakes, and create "a strong growth platform given AOL's progress in mobile and video advertising."
    • The firm also says it's "increasingly concerned" about reports stating Yahoo is thinking of making a big media acquisition with its Alibaba IPO proceeds. In addition, it's not happy with speculation Yahoo is "considering a cash-rich split-off as a structure to separate its non-core minority equity interests," rather than "a spin-off structure or other available alternatives to unlock the full value of the stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan."
    • Yahoo has said it will offer more details about its plans to tax-efficiently monetize its remaining Alibaba stake during its Q4 earnings CC (set for Jan. 27).
    • Both Yahoo and AOL are rallying. The Nasdaq is up 1.7%.
    | Jan. 8, 2015, 11:39 AM | 10 Comments
  • Jan. 8, 2015, 4:43 AM
    • "There's always speculation around us because we have taken a company that was not doing well and ended 2014 with two straight years of growth," announced AOL (NYSE:AOL) chief executive Tim Armstrong, dismissing talks of possible mergers.
    • The company had recently been linked to rumors of a possible joint venture with Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and a merger with Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO).
    • Previously: Verizon CEO throws cold water on AOL acquisition rumor (Jan. 06 2015)
    | Jan. 8, 2015, 4:43 AM | 3 Comments
  • Jan. 6, 2015, 11:21 AM
    • CNBC reports Verizon (VZ - unchanged) CEO Lowell McAdam states any talk of significant M&A discussions isn't accurate.
    • AOL (AOL +2.4%), which soared in AH trading yesterday on a Bloomberg report stating Verizon approached AOL about a possible acquisition or JV, has pared its gains.
    | Jan. 6, 2015, 11:21 AM
  • Jan. 5, 2015, 7:37 PM
    • Bloomberg reports Verizon (NYSE:VZ) approached AOL about a possible takeover or JV to expand its mobile video offerings. No "formal proposal" has been made.
    • Reporter Alex Sherman states Verizon's main interest is in mobile video, and that it's unclear if Verizon has any interest in AOL's media properties (Huffington Post, Engadget, TechCrunch, etc.). A JV would reportedly cover ad technology; AOL is a major player in the fast-growing programmatic (automated) online ad-buying market.
    • AOL is #3 on comScore's rankings of U.S. online video property owners (behind Google/YouTube and Facebook), and is #4 on its rankings of U.S. video ad platforms (in terms of reach). The company also maintains a dial-up ISP base that (as noted by a source) Verizon could try converting to FiOS.
    • Activist Starboard Value has been pushing for Yahoo and AOL to merge. Verizon's track record with Web/mobile content is pretty spotty.
    • AOL +10.6% AH.
    | Jan. 5, 2015, 7:37 PM
  • Dec. 1, 2014, 4:44 PM
    • Re/code reports AOL has bought Vidible, a startup that helps video publishers syndicate and monetize their content, for ~$50M.
    • Vidible claims to offer a "curated library" of 300K+ premium videos. The company also provides analytics and content-discovery tools.
    • AOL has already shown a strong interest in the Web content distribution market: The company bought video syndication startup 5Min for $65M in 2012, and article-recommendation platform Gravity for $95M in January. AOL also shelled out $405M last year to buy video ad platform Adap.tv.
    • While AOL's display ad sales for its own properties were nearly flat Y/Y in Q3, its 3rd-party platform ad sales were up 44% (22% excluding Adap.tv).
    • Update: AOL has confirmed the acquisition, but hasn't disclosed a purchase price.
    | Dec. 1, 2014, 4:44 PM | 1 Comment
  • Nov. 17, 2014, 3:38 AM
    • Amid a campaign to merge AOL (NYSE:AOL) and Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), activist investor Starboard Value has revealed that it bought a 2.4% stake in AOL in the third quarter.
    • Starboard also took a stake in Yahoo during the same period, urging CEO Marissa Mayer to consider a combination of the two companies.
    • Starboard has disclosed the size of its position in Yahoo, listing 7.7M shares, or about a 0.8% stake, putting it just outside the list of top 10 shareholders in the company.
    • Previously: Activist Starboard takes stake in Yahoo, calls for AOL merger
    | Nov. 17, 2014, 3:38 AM | 4 Comments
  • Nov. 12, 2014, 3:10 AM
    | Nov. 12, 2014, 3:10 AM | 15 Comments
  • Sep. 26, 2014, 12:21 PM
    • In an open letter, activist investor Starboard Value says it's "a significant shareholder" in Yahoo (YHOO +3.9%), and calls for the company to "explore a strategic combination with AOL (AOL +6.1%)."
    • Starboard also wants Yahoo to "[unlock] the substantial value" in its Alibaba and Yahoo Japan stakes in a tax-efficient manner (could be easier said than done), cut losses in its display ad/content ops by $250M-$500M through cost cuts, and put an end to its "aggressive" M&A strategy.
    • The firm estimates a $17.67/share "value gap" exists between Yahoo's trading price and its sum-of-the-parts valuation, something it attributes to tax worries and concerns about how Yahoo will spend any Alibaba/Yahoo Japan proceeds (previous).
    • It thinks an AOL deal "could offer synergies of up to $1 billion by significantly reducing the cost overlaps in [Yahoo and AOL's] Display advertising businesses as well as synergies in corporate overhead." Starboard also believes an AOL merger could lower Yahoo's Alibaba/Yahoo Japan tax bill.
    • Josh Brown argued last week Yahoo is now a prime target for activists. Starboard once waged a failed proxy battle against AOL.
    • Yahoo and AOL have both spiked in response to Starboard's letter.
    | Sep. 26, 2014, 12:21 PM | 35 Comments