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Yahoo starts selling half of its Alibaba stake as promised, sends $3.65 billion to giddy shareholders

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
September 19, 2012
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Anyone who's been holding on to Yahoo shares through thick and thin is about to reap the rewards of that patience. As the company promised, it's starting to sell back half its stake in Alibaba, closing the first stage of the deal with the equivalent of $7.6 billion in pure revenue. The struggling search and content firm 'only' pockets a net $4.3 billion after taxes and other overhead costs, but it won't even see that much in its bank account: it's purposefully sending $3.65 billion of that money to shareholders, both to inspire new confidence and (unofficially) to head off activist investors like Dan Loeb that might otherwise want a coup d'état. If share owners plan on using the second stage of the sale to fund a vacation to Maui, though, they'll need to wait. Yahoo's deal prevents it from selling half of its remaining 23 percent stake unless Alibaba files for an initial public offering, and there's no guarantee that investors will see another dime of the proceeds.

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Yahoo! Completes First Stage of Alibaba Share Repurchase Agreement Valued at $7.6 Billion

SUNNYVALE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) announced today that it has closed the initial sale of shares in Alibaba Group Holding Limited. At closing, Yahoo! received approximately $7.6 billion, $6.3 billion in cash and $800 million in preferred shares of Alibaba in exchange for half of Yahoo!'s 40 percent stake in Alibaba, as well as a payment of $550 million for a technology and intellectual property license agreement. Net cash proceeds after taxes and fees from the first stage of the repurchase agreement total approximately $4.3 billion.

"Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations"
"The completion of the first stage of the Alibaba share repurchase represents a significant milestone for both Alibaba and Yahoo!. The execution of the deal was excellent, and we are excited to announce its completion well within the six-month time frame we communicated. I look forward to continued partnership with Jack Ma and his team as they position Alibaba for future growth," said Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer. "The Yahoo! board and management have met, reviewed the strategy with regard to the proceeds, and are pleased to announce that we will be returning $3 billion of the proceeds to shareholders in addition to the 'down payment' of $646 million made over the past few months. This yields a substantial return for investors while retaining a meaningful amount of capital within the company to invest in future growth."

Yahoo! will return approximately $3.65 billion in after-tax proceeds to shareholders, or 85 percent of the net cash proceeds from the initial sale of its shares in Alibaba. This amount includes $646 million the company has already returned to shareholders through share repurchases since the announcement of the transaction, as well as an additional $3.0 billion.

After accretion from the Alibaba share repurchase, Yahoo! continues to own approximately 23 percent of Alibaba Group common stock, valued at $8.1 billion based on this most recent round of funding. Together with its preferred stock, the implied valuation of Yahoo!'s entire remaining stake is approximately $8.9 billion.

Under the terms of the agreement with Alibaba, the second phase allows for Yahoo! to monetize approximately half of its remaining stake at the time of an initial public offering (IPO) of Alibaba. After an IPO, Yahoo! has the right to sell its remaining shares at its discretion following a customary lock-up period.

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