Marissa Mayer Explains Why Yahoo Isn’t Spinning Off Alibaba

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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and chairman Maynard Webb appeared on CNBC today to explain why the company’s board of directors decided not to spin off its stake Alibaba.

The Sunnyvale, Calif. company’s lucrative piece of the Chinese e-commerce company has done wonders for its coffers and share price but lately has sent it into an existential crisis as investors seek growth from the beleaguered company. Yahoo originally sought to spin out the stake; now it’s considering spinning off its core media business, which makes money largely from display advertising.

“We still do feel that the forward spin that we had originally proposed is very likely to be tax-efficient,” Mayer said Wednesday morning. “With that said, we did overall see indications, certainly in the market, around uncertainty as to the tax treatment and the duration of the time it might take in order to get to resolution. And so given that, we feel it’s prudent at this time to look at alternatives like the reverse spin.”

But this is really a board-level question, Mayer added, and ceded the floor to Webb.

“The investor perception and the overhang became much clearer as we went closer to actually affecting the spin,” he said. “Also, we have been discussing this for months, with a lot of attention to detail and a lot of help from advisors, and we are certainly convinced that if we went forward it would be very, very legal and would return great shareholder value. It just would take too long for us to get through [to] all the clarity we need. We felt very certain that the overhang for the stock for that length of time would destroy too much shareholder value.”

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