Yahoo Japan: CEO change won’t affect prospective sale of Yahoo Inc stake

Yahoo Japan: CEO change won’t affect prospective sale of Yahoo Inc stake

Yahoo Japan has rejected claims that Yahoo’s latest change of leader will impact upon the potential sale of its share in the Japanese joint venture, as the troubled Web firm looks to streamline its business.

Yahoo just let its sixth CEO in seven years go, after Scott Thompson finally paid the price for his erroneous resume. Yahoo has been linked with selling its 33 percent share of the Japanese venture — run independently of Yahoo Inc. — since before Thompson came on board, and a spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that it doesn’t expect the change to have any impact in future sale talks, or its day-to-day business.

The company is reported to be keen to shed its investment in Yahoo Japan and Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba, both of which are successful in their own rights, to order to help smooth a potential sale of the company.

However, talks to sell the stake in Yahoo Japan broke down earlier this year, with the Wall Street Journal indicating that the company’s insistence on structuring a tax-free transaction was to blame.

Yahoo Japan is rated at $6 billion and enjoys a strong brand and a number of popular services.

Its Yahoo Japan portal is the country’s most visited site (according to Alexa) while recent data (PDF) indicates that mobile accounts for an impressive 20 percent of its monthly page views.

The company is speculated to be having more success with Alibaba. Bloomberg reports that Alibaba is close to raising a $3 million loan to buy-out the troubled US Internet firm and regain control of all (or a sizeable part) of the 27 percent share that Yahoo owns.

This year has seen Yahoo Japan make a big play for mobile, unveiling an Android app store and its own browser for the Google-owned operating system, which accounted for 69 percent of smartphones sold in the country during 2010.

Japanese operator Softbank is the largest stakeholder in Yahoo Japan, retaining more than 40 percent. Softbank offloaded its 4 percent stake in Yahoo Inc. last year, and has been long rumored as a possible buyer of the company’s investment in Yahoo Japan.

Yahoo’s quest to offload its Asian assets has been ongoing for some time and it is a key focus for the company, and has been a policy during the tenure of a number of company CEOs. However, its demands have scuppered any possible deal to date, so interim CEO Ross Levinsohn could yet have an influence on proceedings.

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