Yahoo poised to exit Japan

Yahoo is in talks to trade or sell its 35 per cent
stake in Yahoo Japan according to sources close to the
company.

Among
the possibilities is a swap of assets, in which Yahoo would exchange its
holdings in Yahoo Japan and give majority owner Softbank a stake in the US company.

However,
the negotiations are still in the formative stages, with the parties involved
debating what form a transaction might take.

Nothing
is imminent, sources said, and the talks could go nowhere.

Softbank,
which holds a 41 per cent stake in Yahoo Japan, said there was “no truth” to
media reports that it was negotiating to take Yahoo’s stake.

The
company, run by Masayoshi Son, the Japanese telecoms entrepreneur, said on its
website that it “does not intend to acquire shares” in Yahoo Japan.

Yahoo
declined to comment.

One
person close to the company said the hoped-for transaction would not involve
Yahoo’s investment in Alibaba, the Chinese internet holding company that has
sparred in public with Carol Bartz, Yahoo’s chief executive.

Softbank
is also one of Alibaba’s investors.

The
talks come as Ms Bartz is under pressure to return cash or other assets to
shareholders.

Yahoo’s
growth has ebbed as internet audiences and advertisers turn to Facebook and
other websites.

In
contrast to Yahoo in the US, Yahoo Japan has maintained its dominant position
in internet search, handling 50 per cent of queries in contrast to a roughly 30
per cent share for rival Google.

The
Japanese affiliate has split with its US parent in other areas.

 Last year it chose
Google to power its
web searches in a snub to Microsoft’s Bing search engine technology.
Yahoo had committed to using Bing elsewhere in the world for 10 years.

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