According to a report from WSJ, Google is currently in talks with private-equity firms regarding potentially providing assistance in the purchase of Yahoo Inc.
The report mentions the possibility Google is simply trying to bid up the purchase price to make it a less attractive deal for other potential buyers including Microsoft. Yahoo is currently in talks with Microsoft and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners as well as the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board regarding a possible deal. Although, there are reasons Google might find owning a piece of Yahoo’s 700 million plus unique monthly visitors beneficial.
The most obvious is advertising. According to the report, “Google wants to help sell the ad space across Yahoo sites as Yahoo has struggled to get good prices for it”. WSJ mentions the ability to push Google+ on the Yahoo community, but more importantly, a deal would provide Google with access to ads displayed in content from ABC News and other current premium content partners of Yahoo. According to the source, Google is interested in “having deeper business relationships with such publishers”.
Citing a “person familiar with the matter”, WSJ’s sources claim that Google has talked with two undisclosed private-equity firms, and while no deal has been struck, many are already discussing potential antitrust investigations. Forbes just published a story focusing on the antitrust issues of a potential Yahoo purchase, outlining the obvious predicament:
“…it is anti-competitive for #1 Google to buy part of #2 Yahoo to gain business leverage over Yahoo and to extend Google’s dominant advertising service to Yahoo’s audience, because the Google-Yahoo cross-ownership would undermine Yahoo’s ability to compete with Google”
In 2008, Google came under similar scrutiny regarding a search advertising related deal with Yahoo that fell through and eventually seen Microsoft sign a 10-year agreement with Yahoo’s search business.
According to eMarketer, Yahoo’s ad business is currently worth approximately $2 billion annually, a figure which includes video, graphical, and all other ads displayed throughout interactive and premium content. This compares to Google’s estimated $1.1 billion (and growing).