Yahoo Asian assets sale 'most likely option'

Internet company reportedly favoring sale of stakes in Yahoo Japan and China's Alibaba to fund dividend for investors or to buy back shares over option of selling whole company.

Yahoo, which recently has been the subject of numerous takeover and restructuring claims, is said to be leaning toward selling its Asian assets in order to give investors a special dividend or to buy back shares, over selling the company as a whole.

According to a Bloomberg report Saturday, the Web giant was favoring the sales of assets such as its stakes in Yahoo Japan and China's e-commerce company Alibaba. Citing sources familiar with the situation, the news agency said this scenario was emerging as the "most likely option" for Yahoo and would let the Internet giant redistribute the proceeds to shareholders or use the funds raised to buy back shares.

That said, no decision had been made and Yahoo could still sell to a group of investors, sell a minority stake in the company or seek a buyer for the entire company following the sales of its Asian assets, the report added, noting that the sources declined to be named because the talks were private. Yahoo, too, declined to comment on the report.

The latest news comes after Yahoo's co-founder Jerry Yang said the company was not necessarily putting itself for sale. He said during the recently concluded All Things Digital Asia conference in Hong Kong that the company's intent was "not to put ourselves up for sale". "The intent is to look at all options. There [are] plenty of options for the board, and plenty of options for our shareholders to realize value," he said.

Purported plans to sell of Yahoo's Asian assets are not new. Earlier, the company was reportedly moving closer to cashing out its 35 percent stake in Yahoo Japan, which has a market value of about US$19 billion and net cash of US$2 billion. The asset is something the company can dispose of quickly and has "limited strategic appeal" for the company.