Daily Mail Says It's in Talks With Potential Yahoo Bidders

Google, Verizon May Also Bid

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Yahoo said it would explore strategic alternatives earlier this year. First-round offers are expected next Monday.
Yahoo said it would explore strategic alternatives earlier this year. First-round offers are expected next Monday. Credit: Noah Berger/Bloomberg

The publisher of Britain's Daily Mail newspaper is interested in buying Yahoo's media and news properties, according to a person familiar with the matter, and is in talks to join with potential bidders who would carve up the U.S. internet company.

"Discussions are at a very early stage," a representative for Daily Mail said Monday in an e-mailed statement. "There is no certainty that any transaction will take place."

Daily Mail has spoken with a half-dozen U.S.-based private-equity firms and a bid would only be made in conjunction with a partner, said the person, who asked not to be named because the plans are private. The Mail could take over Yahoo's media and news properties while its partner buys the web business, they said. Alternately, a buyer could unite the Mail's online operation with Yahoo's media assets in a separate company. Yahoo's market value is about ten times that of the Mail.

Yahoo's media assets would augment Daily Mail's growing online presence in the U.S. by adding some of country's biggest news, weather and messaging portals. The U.S. site, DailyMail.com, has gained ground since starting in 2012 by focusing on celebrity news and younger readers. It and MailOnline.com in the U.K. are among the most-read news sites in English. While ComScore ranked Yahoo sites third among U.S. visitors in January with 205 million, Mail had 75 million unique visitors and placed 33rd.

Yahoo 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% in the past 12 months as turnaround efforts led by CEO Marissa Mayer stalled and sales have sagged, leaving Yahoo vulnerable to activist investors.

AOL parent Verizon Communications plans to make a first-round bid for Yahoo's web business on April 18 and is willing to acquire the company's Yahoo Japan Corp. stake to help sweeten the offer, according to people familiar with the matter. Google, the main division of Alphabet, is also considering bidding for Yahoo's core business, a separate person said.

The Wall Street Journal first reported news of the Daily Mail's talks with possible private-equity partners. Mail previously formed a marketing agency last year with Snapchat and WPP, the world's largest advertising company, and bought the Elite Daily web site, a news platform geared toward so-called millennials.

DailyMail.com said in June it was partnering with daytime TV talk-show host Dr. Phil McGraw for an online video series. The venture, called DailyMail TV, will be based at the Daily Mail's New York office with anchors and studios also in London, Los Angeles and Sydney.

-- Bloomberg News

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