Daily Mail in talks with partners to mount Yahoo bid

A Yahoo billboard in Washington, DC. Daily Mail is just one of some 40 players that have expressed interest in the Web portal.
A Yahoo billboard in Washington, DC. Daily Mail is just one of some 40 players that have expressed interest in the Web portal. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

British paper's parent declines to name private equity firms or give financial details

LONDON • Britain's Daily Mail is in talks with potential partners to mount a joint bid for Yahoo's Internet assets, eyeing a plan to buy the troubled US Internet pioneer to help boost advertising revenues from the Mail's globally popular online news site.

The British newspaper's parent company, the Daily Mail & General Trust, said yesterday that it was in early-stage discussions with several parties about a possible bid for Yahoo, confirming a Wall Street Journal report it had approached private equity buyers to team up.

"We have been in discussions with a number of parties who are potential bidders," a spokesman for DailyMail.com said in an e-mailed statement, Reuters reported. The company declined to name the private equity firms or give any financial details.

DailyMail.com and MailOnline are the celebrity-focused news websites of the right-leaning London-based Daily Mail newspaper.

Globally, the websites attract 14 million visitors a day, putting them among the world's most popular English-language news sites.

Buying Yahoo's assets - which range from search and e-mail to news, sports, photos and other properties - would expand DailyMail. com's reach and improve its digital ad revenues, which for its 2015 financial year came in at £73 million (S$104 million), a tenth of the company's overall annual turnover.

Liberum analyst Ian Whittaker said a deal with Yahoo would be positive for the company, helping it sell more US advertising and reducing its dependence on shrinking advertising sales from its newspaper business in Britain.

"The US has been the main driver of digital growth for Daily Mail & General Trust. Whilst traffic has grown well, they haven't quite monetised this traffic as successfully as they would have liked," Mr Whittaker said.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the discussions. Daily Mail, along with an equity partner, would aim to acquire the entirety of Yahoo's US operation. In another scenario, a private equity firm would acquire Yahoo and merge its media and news properties into a new company that would include the Mail's Web properties, DailyMail.com and Elite Daily.

Daily Mail is just one of some 40 players that have expressed interest in the Web portal, the Journal said. Verizon, which owns American Online and is looking to beef up its digital media and advertising businesses further, is considered a front runner for Yahoo, planning to make a first-round bid.

Verizon is willing to acquire the company's Yahoo Japan stake to help sweeten the offer, reports had said earlier. Google, the main division of Alphabet, is also considering bidding for Yahoo's core business.

Yahoo had said it would explore strategic alternatives, including selling its main Internet operations, earlier this year after scrapping a long-time plan to spin off its valuable Asian assets.

The company's stock has declined about 20 per cent in the past 12 months as turnaround efforts led by chief executive officer Marissa Mayer stalled and sales sagged, leaving Yahoo vulnerable to activist investors.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2016, with the headline 'Daily Mail in talks with partners to mount Yahoo bid'. Print Edition | Subscribe