Blog Post

Yell-Google Acquisition Rumours Resurface, Now With Lower Price

Tongues in the City are wagging again with last year’s rumour Google (NSDQ: GOOG) might bid for business listings publisher Yell. It never happened in ’07, but that didn’t stop new unattributed talk of a £5-per-share offer (see the Indie) bumping the Berkshire-based group’s market price up at last night’s close.

CMC Markets trader Jimmy Yates tells Bloomberg: “I’m not surprised to hear (the rumour) has surfaced again. Yell has lost almost half its value in the last 11 months and certainly looks more attractive now as a takeover candidate.” A £5 share offer would be considerably less than the £6.50-per-share value mooted in May. But then, that was speculation, too.

Yell.com got 6.6 million unique users and 28.4 million searches in September (it was ABCe figs) but that’s fallen (33 million searches in March) and the group perhaps has as much value in its data relationships. Yell has provided listings to Google services like maps, mobile and local results since 2005, so Google would need to see some value in bringing Yell in-house. Incidentally, the partnership doesn’t work the other way around – Yell’s maps are powered by Multimap, not Google Maps.

In this vein, for example, GPS maker TomTom is buying its main map supplier TeleAtlas (also a Google supplier). The Sun newspaper also wants to get in to local classified ads; the local newspapers who had such an opportunity in this area risk being disintermediated.

Yell redesigned in December 2006, then in May 2007 and again only last month. The group also publishes the iconic Yellow Pages tome, but the print business is in decline and its last full-year revenue, which posted a £213 million profit, crept up thanks