Weather Channel on Yahoo Wish List as Part of Possible Asian Asset Deals

7:19 AM PST 01/06/2012 by Georg Szalai

The online firm has been looking at a tax-efficient way to unwind its stakes in Alibaba Group and Yahoo Japan.

NEW YORK - The Weather Channel is among a list of companies that Yahoo would like to own if it could pull off an asset swap with its Asian partners, Bloomberg News reported.

The online firm has been looking at a potential tax-efficient asset swap with Alibaba Group and Softbank that would unwind its stakes in two Asian businesses, Bloomberg said citing people with knowledge of the situation.

Yahoo is looking to divest its 40 percent stake in Alibaba, which observers have valued at about $12 billion, and at least part of its 35 percent stake in Yahoo Japan, which reports have said is worth about $5 billion. Softbank is the majority owner of Yahoo Japan.

The Weather Channel may only remain on Yahoo's wish list though. NBCUniversal and private equity firms Bain Capital and the Blackstone Group acquired the network for $3.5 billion in 2008. So, a sale would first have to be negotiated, and it isn't clear that the current owners would even be open to a sale. Bloomberg said Alibaba could buy the Weather Channel and then swap it for Yahoo's stake in Alibaba.

A Weather Channel spokeswoman declined comment.

According to Bloomberg, Yahoo drafted a wish list of assets before it named Scott Thompson as its new CEO this week. (link) The list also includes WebMD, which Softbank could use for an asset swap, and AutoTrader.com, it said. Thompson might add to the list or change it, the report said.
 

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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