Photo: Yodel Anecdotal
For what seems like years, Yahoo has been trying to figure out a way to sell its huge stake in China Internet giant Alibaba “tax free”–thus avoiding the billions of dollars of capital-gains taxes it will have to pay on the stake.Now, Yahoo appears to have finally given up on that plan.
Instead, it’s just wants to sell the stake and pay the taxes, report Anupreeta Das and Gina Chon of the Wall Street Journal.
As Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson’s fate hangs in the balance after it was found that the Computer Science degree on his resume didn’t exist, the world will get to see, yet again, whether Yahoo will finally do a deal with Alibaba.
Yahoo owns 40% of Alibaba. The company is talking to Alibaba about selling 15%-25% of Alibaba back to Alibaba, Das and Chon report. At the $32 billion valuation for Alibaba discussed in Yahoo’s most recent attempt to strike a deal, that sale would generate $5-$8 billion in cash, which Yahoo would then have to pay taxes on.
Alibaba, meanwhile, would have to raise a couple of billion of cash to pay for the stake.
The idea that Yahoo would sell its stake in Alibaba to appease short-term shareholders seems crazy to many observers, who think that Alibaba will go on to create one of the largest Internet companies on the planet. Instead of cashing out now, these observers say, Yahoo should just focus on its core business and let the Alibaba stake amass value. Then, if it wants to cash out later, it can.
And that’s a perfectly reasonable view. Holding the Alibaba stake costs Yahoo exactly nothing. The reason Alibaba wants the stake back is that it thinks it will be worth more later.
So one hopes that, at the very least, Yahoo demands an excellent price for the stake, especially if it’s going to have to pay taxes on the gain.
But, meanwhile, the Alibaba talks are a sideshow. The bigger question is whether, come Monday, Yahoo will be looking for its fourth CEO in a year.