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Verizon sounds like it’s cooling off on Yahoo

Unhappy woman sitting at bar counter and couple dancing behind

It’s Friday and Verizon is breaking out its dancing shoes as it appears to be warming up for a moonwalk away from the Yahoo deal.

Spare a thought for those poor Yahoo shareholders. For years they’ve been kicked and punched and pinched as the Yahoo brand slowly eroded away, and as soon as Verizon appears on the edge of the dancefloor, sauntering towards the former internet beauty queen, the telco hunk begins to slow down. Maybe it has noticed the wrinkles, or the padded bra, or the dated dress sense, or the hidden note from the clinic in its purse, but Verizon would appear to be having second thoughts.

According to Reuters, Verizon’s top lawyer Craig Silliman told assembled media that recent events could trigger a clause in the deal which would allow the telco to walk away unscathed. “I think we have a reasonable basis to believe right now that the impact is material and we’re looking to Yahoo to demonstrate to us the full impact. If they believe that it’s not then they’ll need to show us that.”

Despite a more recent scandal to hit Yahoo, Verizon’s concerns are more focused around the data breach which rocked the industry, not only because of the scale of the breach, but the realization Yahoo had that many users. For Verizon to continue with the deal, Yahoo execs will have to prove to the telco the breach has not had a significant negative impact on the value or performance of the internet business. Though differentiating between the impact of the security breach and years of mismanagement as Yahoo failed to adapt to the new internet industry may be a tough task.

The deal has been approved by the US Federal Trade Commission, though the i’s are still being dotted and the t’s crossed by the European Commission and the US Securities and Exchange Commission. There is still a little bit of breathing room for the Verizon legal team to assess the situation, but it should get a move on.

One point which is worth noting, is there is yet to be an example of a US company successfully pulling out of an acquisition invoking such a clause, Reuters claims. Should the Verizon team be successful, this could set an interesting precedent in the M&A world for years to come.

Last week there were rumours Verizon would haggle over price, apparently considering a $1 billion discount, but now it appears the deal could be killed off. Surely Yahoo shareholder would struggle to cope with yet another disappointment and if this deal does fall through it’s hard to imagine Yahoo getting a result even if it was the last company left on the dance floor.


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