Will Dan Gilbert buy Yahoo? Clues to come

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

Quicken Loans Inc. founder Dan Gilbert and other potential buyers of Yahoo Inc. must wait a little longer to find out whether the global internet firm will sell its core business.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said the company is still looking for “the right transaction” for the potential sale, but didn’t name who is still in the running.

Gilbert said Monday he hoped to “hear something” by the end of the week.

During Yahoo’s second-quarter earnings call Monday, Yahoo executives didn’t provide many specifics.

“While we have no announcement today, I can say we’re deep into the process of evaluating proposals and alternatives and will update our shareholders as soon as it’s prudent,” Mayer said.

She added: “Our board’s independent strategic review committee which is leading a well-run robust process continues to manage this effort and we’re making great progress.”

Companies including Verizon, AT&T and a number of private equity firms are reported to be in the race to buy Yahoo’s core assets. There’s also a chance the company might not get sold at all, if the bidding prices are too low.

Potential buyers are bidding for Yahoo’s search, email and media operations advertising. That includes properties like Yahoo Mail and Fantasy Sports.

Most recent reports say Yahoo has received multiple bids in excess of $5 billion. Those vying for Yahoo’s operations include Gilbert, who is backed by investor Warren Buffett; Verizon Communications; AT&T; and multiple private-equity firms.

Gilbert made a brief comment about his chances during a television interview with “CBS This Morning” on Monday at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The arena is hosting the Republican National Convention, which kicked off Monday.

About the sale, Gilbert said, “We’re hoping this week that we hear something. You just never know in these things what’s going on. We feel like we’ve done a real hard due diligence on this company. We like the company, we like the prospects, we like the potential of it all. It’s a great brand. We’ll have to see, it’s up to the seller.”

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has offered to be a potential finance partner, while Gilbert leads negotiations, Buffett said in May.

Buffett is chairman of the board and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, the Omaha conglomerate with major investments in Goldman Sachs, General Motors Co., Coca-Cola, American Express and Wells Fargo.

Lately he’s teamed up in various deals for Kraft Foods, Heinz, Burger King and Tim Hortons.

His worth is $62 billion, according to Forbes magazine, which ranked him as the second-wealthiest American.

Detroit-born Gilbert is worth $5 billion, according to Forbes, which ranked him as the 286th wealthiest American. Gilbert is founder of Quicken — the nation’s largest online mortgage lender — and owns other ventures from casinos to media publications to the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.

Gilbert, a major force in Detroit, has invested $2.2 billion since 2010 in buying and renovating property mainly in the city’s downtown, ranging from skyscrapers to parking garages and smaller buildings. He has long talked of creating a tech and entertainment hub in the Motor City.

Gilbert is banking on technology, millennials and walkability to revive the downtown. He’s counting on his wealth and connections to create a cluster of entrepreneurial companies that will lure other startups away from Chicago, New York and Silicon Valley.

From early on, he called his vision “Detroit 2.0.” “By being downtown, in one place, other businesses will emerge,” Gilbert said during a 2011 presentation.

At its peak in early 2000, Yahoo was worth $255 billion. It’s had six CEOs over the past nine years. Yahoo’s internet business, including search, mail and news, attracts an international audience.

Yahoo on Monday gave its second-quarter results. Sales rose to $1.3 billion from $1.2 billion a year ago. Profit, minus some costs, was 9 cents a share. The company beat analysts’ sales expectations of $1.08 billion but missed earnings-per-share expectations by a cent.


Twitter: LouisAguilar_DN