Verizon Communications Is Weighing a Sale of Yahoo!, AOL Unit

Verizon Communications Inc. is considering selling its media division, according to people familiar with the matter, as the telecommunications giant seeks to unload once high-flying dot-com brands such as Yahoo! and AOL.

Verizon Media could fetch as much as $5 billion, said the people, who asked to not be identified because the matter isn’t public. The company is talking to Apollo Global Management Inc. about a deal, they said. It couldn’t immediately be learned how a deal would be structured or if other suitors may emerge. No final decision has been made and Verizon could opt to keep the unit.

A representative for Verizon declined to comment. A representative for Apollo couldn’t be reached for comment.

The move comes as Verizon divests tertiary media assets while ramping up its focus on its wireless business and the the rollout of its 5G service. Last year, it agreed to sell the HuffPost online news service to BuzzFeed Inc. and it unloaded the blogging platform Tumblr in 2019.

This divestiture would mark Verizon’s final retreat from an expensive foray into online advertising, a strategy that never really took off. Verizon bought Yahoo!’s internet properties in 2017 for about $4.5 billion and it acquired AOL in 2015 for about $4.4 billion.

In 2018, after Hans Vestberg took over as chief executive officer, the company wrote off more than $4 billion, or roughly half the value of the media business, and renamed it the Verizon Media Group.

Verizon Media has more than a dozen online brands. In addition to Yahoo! and AOL, the portfolio includes TechCrunch, Ryot, Built By Girls and Flurry, according to its website.

The division had $1.9 billion of operating revenue in the three months ending March 31, according to the company’s annual report. That’s an increase of more than 10% from a year earlier.

News of the potential sale was reported earlier by Dow Jones.

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