Yahoo getting out of China; layoffs expected

UPDATED: It's not quite a throwback to the massive cuts that terrorized the tech giant a few years ago, but it could be a hint of blood in the water.

China is at the top of most tech giant's must-see lists these days (see: Apple), especially as the country explodes into the world's largest mobile market -- churning out both more consumers and manufacturers these days.

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Given Yahoo's endless strategy talk about being a mobile-first company, news that the search company is closing up shop in China is a bit startling.

According to the Wall Street Journal late on Wednesday, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company will be shuttering its Beijing research and development center. Approximately 200 to 300 jobs are expected to be cut.

It's not quite a throwback to the massive cuts terrorizing the tech giant a few years ago when thousands of pink slips were handed out while Scott Thompson was still CEO.

Nevertheless, it could be a hint of blood in the water given recent unrest among shareholders.

Investors have been said to been demanding new -- and even drastic -- directions for Yahoo, ranging from mergers with AOL to SoftBank.

Yahoo did make a big pivot in February, spinning off a small business division thanks to its multi-billion stake in China's biggest tech business, Alibaba.

The SMB unit will offer services for launching and managing businesses online, including domain name registration, Web hosting, e-commerce, email setup and business consulting.

Yahoo first revealed its tax-free spin-off plan in January, transforming a 15 percent stake in the e-commerce giant into a new, independent company dubbed SpinCo. That stake amounts to 384 million shares valued at $40 billion.

In a statement at the time, current Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said $50 billion will be generated for shareholders once the spin-off is complete.

ZDNet has reached out to Yahoo for confirmation and further comment.

UPDATE: A Yahoo spokesperson confirmed with the following statement:

We are constantly making changes to align resources, and to foster better collaboration and innovation across our business. Today we informed our employees based in Beijing that we will be closing our office there. We currently do not offer local product experiences in Beijing but the office has served as a research and development center. We will be consolidating certain functions into fewer offices, including to our headquarters in Sunnyvale, California, U.S.. Our impacted employees will be treated with respect and fairness through this transition.

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