According to sources, Yahoo has set April 11 as the deadline for suitors to send in their preliminary bids for the company's core Web business and Asian assets.
Letters have been sent out to prospective buyers over the past few days, requesting them to submit proposals that include their bids and the assets they are wishing to acquire. The bidders were also requested to reveal information on how they will acquire the financing needed to fulfill their proposal, the approvals and conditions their proposal will need and the key assumptions that will be made if their proposal is moved forward.
There are currently about 40 companies looking to acquire the Yahoo's core Web business, or at least a part of it, along with Yahoo's stakes in Yahoo Japan and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The company wants to reduce the number of prospective buyers, which have all recently signed nondisclosure agreements.
Among the suitors that Yahoo's bankers have been contacting are Verizon Communications, IAC/InterActiveCorp and Time, along with private equity firms KKR & Co. and TPG.
A recent report revealed that Microsoft is willing to offer significant financing to any company that would step up to buy the entire core Web business, which carries an enormous price tag of $10 billion. Microsoft is open to such a move as it is hoping to maintain the revenue it's generating from the current search partnership with Yahoo.
The pledged support by Microsoft would greatly assist Yahoo's core Web business, which is made up of the company's advertising, search and web services. The price that Yahoo is seeking is about $2 billion to $4 billion higher compared to the value analysts have expected.
In January, reports revealed that Yahoo rebuffed investor calls that wanted to explore a potential sale of the company's core Web business. The company wanted to see first how shareholders will react once it revealed its strategic vision at the company's earnings call.
Yahoo initially wanted to go ahead with a tax-free spinoff of its core Web business, but investors were pushing for the company to launch an outright sale of the assets due to concerns that more value will be lost amid intense competition against rivals Google and Facebook.
Yahoo is now being pressured to move forward with the auction process for its core Web business as activist investor Starboard Value LP said that it would be launching a proxy fight against the current board of the company. Starboard aims to replace all nine members of Yahoo's board of directors, claiming that they can no longer be trusted with the company's future due to the long time it's taking for sales negotiations for possible buyers.
With preliminary bids being requested by April 11, a deal could be potentially closed by June or July, which is when the company is expected to hold its annual meeting of shareholders where they could vote in favor of Starboard's proposal.
A spokesman for Yahoo did not have an immediate comment for the matter when contacted by The Wall Street Journal.