Marshall Hargrave: Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), one of the nation’s largest wireless carriers, has been quietly gearing up for its next big move in its aim to become a media giant.
But it needs some help. It bought up AOL last year, which has helped get the proverbial ball rolling. However, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong can only do so much, as AOL only brought in around $3 billion in revenues last year. That amount barely moves the needle for Verizon, which brings in more than $130 billion annually in revenues.
Nonetheless, Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) might hold the answers, as Verizon is reportedly working on a bid for Yahoo’s Web business.
Verizon Is Well Positioned
The fact that Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL), the parent company of Google, is also looking at buying up Yahoo’s core business adds some validation to the fact that there’s still value within Yahoo’s ad business. Even AT&T (NYSE: T) considered a bid for Yahoo, but backed out.
Verizon is in the leadership position when it comes to winning the Yahoo bidding war, which also reportedly includes private equity firms and other tech giants. Verizon, with a more than $200 billion market cap, has the ability to not only buy Yahoo’s core business but also its 35% stake in Yahoo Japan, which is valued at roughly $8.5 billion.
This is a deal that would be appealing to Yahoo, which would like to unload everything but its Alibaba Group (NASDAQ: BABA) stake.
Yahoo has been desperately trying to monetize its assets, including its Alibaba stake, for over a year. But it has endured one misstep after another, from the abandoning of plans to spin off the Alibaba stake to the months-long attempt to either spin off or sell its core Web business.
The buyout of Yahoo would make Verizon an even bigger threat to Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) and Google, which are the leaders in online advertising. And this is what Verizon shareholders should want.
Verizon’s Big Vision
The best-case scenario right now is that Verizon buys Yahoo.
Yahoo still has some value in its websites and search engine, which still generate plenty of traffic. However, Yahoo has failed to both fully monetize and properly fend off competitors like Facebook.
Verizon has AOL’s Tim Armstrong, who’s proven to be a hustler when it comes to advertising. He’s already in charge of Verizon’s digital media advertising business, and he could be on the short list to eventually take over as CEO of Verizon.
Armstrong has big plans for the ad business at Verizon. He’s hoping he can transition Verizon from a predominantly wireless telecom company to a mobile media powerhouse by creating a media business within Verizon that generates upward of $20 billion in revenues by 2020. This would be a grand feat that might require Yahoo’s help.