James Perrin

Yahoo’s Shares Drop after Sale of Alipay

12th May 2011 News, Industry News 2 minutes to read

The heat is turning up on Yahoo after their shares dropped in relation to the sale of Alipay. Yahoo indirectly controlled Alipay their 43 percent stake in Chinese internet giant Alibaba.

The giant Chinese e-commerce group, Alibaba are believed to have sold the control of its online payment company, Alipay. The company have sold to a group who is controlled by Jack Ma, the current chief executive of Alibaba.

However, according to reports speculation now surrounds Yahoo’s assets in Alibaba. Yahoo themselves filed a quarterly report yesterday with market regulators, and mentioned the possible sale of Alipay to Ma. Consequently the markets responded to this news and yesterday Yahoo’s shares fell 7 percent, the largest drop in a year.

So Alibaba, who have 43% investment from Yahoo have sold Alipay to another group controlled by the current chief executive of Alibaba. What’s going on? Well Alipay has to find new ownership quickly because new Chinese regulations state that payments groups who are not owned by financial companies need to be Chinese owned. This needed to be sorted as soon as possible and so Yahoo and Softbank, the other major shareholder of Alibaba are now in talks.

In Yahoo’s filing, they have stated that they and Softbank, who own 30 percent of Alibaba, were “engaged in ongoing discussions regarding the terms of the restructuring and the appropriate commercial arrangements” related to the sale of Alipay.

For Yahoo this could well prove to be a bitter blow as they wanted to concentrate on Chinese markets after the sale of their Japanese Unit earlier this year [See: Yahoo Set to Say Sayonara to Japanese Unit]. Having a 43 percent investment in Alibaba, supposedly the world’s most valued internet conglomerates, puts Yahoo’s valuation incredibly high.

However analysts have feared that the moving of shares from Alibaba, to another group owned by Ma will spell more misery for Yahoo whose valuation could be severely diluted as a result, making Alipay out of reach for the US internet pioneer.

Moving to the Chinese markets could have been viewed as a shrewd move for the struggling internet company, however previous investments and deals have not always gone Yahoo’s way in the past and as a result they have started a fire sale, or what they have called ‘Sunset Sale [See: Yahoo’s ‘Sunset’ Sale Begins]. It now appears their decision to invest in Chinese markets could backfire, as one analyst, Mahaney has said, “We now see Yahoo! as potentially having become a forced seller of its Chinese Internet investments.”

However it has been noted that Yahoo will be compensated accordingly due to the sale of Alipay, whether this is part of the negotiations with Softbank or whether they will receive hard cash remains to be seen. For Yahoo though, it appears more misery has been heaped upon them, for the time being at least.

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