Yahoo to narrow field of bidders as soon as next week

First-round bidders for Yahoo! Inc. could find out as early as next week whether they’ve made it through to the next stage. Yahoo’s advisers will spend the weekend narrowing down the field of bidders after receiving more than 10 initial offers for the Internet company ranging from about $4 billion to $8 billion, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Several first-round bidders will be eliminated to slim down the group, the people said, asking not to be identified because the process is private. After culling the list to a handful of the most plausible buyers, Yahoo will give them increased access to internal documents and management, one of the people said. A decision on a winner is probably at least a month away, the people said. Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer said on an earnings call with analysts Tuesday that the company is moving swiftly to consider offers for its Web operations and that efforts “reflect clear, decisive action to move forward quickly and in a way that we believe will yield enhanced value.” Higher Bids Yahoo and its advisers are already speaking with bidders to glean more information about the structure of the various offers, and to get a sense for how much analysis they’ve already done on the deal. Some of the higher bids -- towards the $8 billion end of the range -- came from companies or private equity firms that haven’t spent as much time with Yahoo, one of the people said. Bidders include Verizon Communications Corp., YP Holdings LLC, TPG, and a consortium led by Bain Capital LP and Vista Equity Partners LLC, people familiar with the matter said earlier this week. At least one or two other strategic firms, as opposed to private equity funds, also bid, one of the people said Friday. SoftBank Corp. doesn’t have interest in buying Yahoo’s core Internet business but will have discussions with any buyer that wants to also acquire the Yahoo Japan Corp. stake, according to people familiar with the matter. SoftBank and Verizon have already had preliminary discussions about Yahoo Japan, two of the people said. The conversations have addressed two scenarios -- SoftBank buying back the stake and Verizon keeping it, the people said. Verizon is attempting to get a waiver from Yahoo to restart conversations over Yahoo Japan with SoftBank, the people said. Representatives for Yahoo, Verizon and SoftBank declined to comment. Companies that bid on Yahoo haven’t been allowed to speak to other potential buyers given the terms of the non-disclosure agreements they signed. (By Alex Sherman/Bloomberg, with assistance from Brian Womack, Scott Moritz and Christopher Palmeri)

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