For years, investors have pressured Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) executives to sell the company’s stakes in Yahoo Japan and Alibaba, although the company has balked, citing the strategic value of the investments and various tax issues. That, however, may now be changing.
Reuters (NYSE: TRI) cites sources who say Yahoo is in “advanced talks” to sell its 35 percent stake in Yahoo Japan to SoftBank, which already owns about 40 percent of the company. The news agency says that Yahoo is unlikely to sell the stake outright because of tax issues but that instead SoftBank may buy a stake in Yahoo itself and exchange it for the company’s shares in Yahoo Japan.
Yahoo tells us it won’t comment on “rumor or speculation,” but the report seems reasonable considering Yahoo has recently given hints that it was looking to unload the investment. During the company’s earnings call in late January, for instance, CEO Carol Bartz talked generally about “unlocking the value of (this) investment for shareholders.” And, there was speculation over the summer that Yahoo would be more willing to unload its ownership in Yahoo Japan because Yahoo Japan had chosen Google (NSDQ: GOOG) instead of Yahoo to power search on its site.