Yahoo Japan Slumps After Shareholder Signals Stock Sale

(Bloomberg) -- Yahoo Japan Corp. shares fell by the most in 10 months after Altaba Inc., its second-largest shareholder, outlined plans to sell its stake in the country’s most popular web portal.

The stock fell as much as as 9.6 percent, the most since April 2017, after Altaba Chief Executive Officer Thomas McInerney said in a conference call that the company is “moving to an active monetization mode” on its Yahoo Japan shares. The potential sale of shares will start after the end of the current fiscal year on March 31. Yahoo Japan spokesman Yohei Yamaguchi said a buyback of its shares continues to be among its options, all of which are being considered.

The fate of Altaba’s stake in Yahoo Japan was left in limbo after Yahoo Inc.’s operations were sold to Verizon Communications Inc. for $4.5 billion. Altaba was created to hold the former tech giant’s stakes in other companies, including about 15 percent of China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., about 36 percent in Yahoo Japan, cash and marketable securities, as well as certain minority investments and Excalibur IP, which owns some patent assets.

The stock sales will begin on the open market as soon as the second quarter, McInerney said. While that is “the only option currently available,” he said he would be “disappointed” if the company didn’t find a more efficient path for divestment. Other options include a sale to a third party, he said.

Altaba is talking to SoftBank Group Corp., Yahoo Japan’s largest shareholder, but there is no current plan in place for SoftBank to participate in the sale, McInerney said. Yahoo Japan intends to make a decision after deeper discussions with Altaba management, but nothing has been decided at this moment, Yamaguchi said.

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