Report: Yahoo holding auction for search business

|By:, SA News Editor

CTFN reports Yahoo (YHOO +0.3%) is holding a traditional auction for its search business, and has begun sending NDAs to prospective bidders.

Bankers talking with CTFN state P-E firms are expected to join the auction, but add some of the companies mentioned by the press as potential buyers, such as AT&T and Axel Springer, aren't expected to show strong interest.

The bankers caution it's uncertain if Yahoo will decide if the high bid it receives is good enough for a sale. In-line with reports of tension between the board and Marissa Mayer, one source says the decision to start the auction came from the board rather than management. Activist Starboard Value is reportedly close to landing board seats.

Yahoo's search click-driven revenue fell 7% Y/Y in Q4, with a 10% drop in paid clicks more than offsetting a 3% increase in price per click. For the whole of 2015, GAAP search revenue (affected by Microsoft revenue-sharing payments and a recent search deal with Google) rose 16% to $2.08B.

Bloomberg reported last week Yahoo is set to meet with potential suitors. A long list of P-E, telecom, media, and Internet companies have been rumored to be interested.

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