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Verizon close to a deal to sell Yahoo and AOL



The private equity firm has been announcing deals in recent months to acquire retailer Michaels and the Venetian resort of Las Vegas. He also rocked his senior ranks, with co-founder Leon Black announcing in late March that he was stepping down as chairman after revealing that he had paid more than $ 150 million to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Apollo declined to comment. Verizon did not respond to requests for comment. Bloomberg, which first announced the expected deal, said Verizon would retain a stake in the media.

The deal would signal the unraveling of a strategy that Verizon announced in 201

5 when it acquired the faded internet giant AOL for $ 4.4 billion. The purchase was intended to give Verizon a path to mobile devices in order to use AOL’s advertising technology to sell ads against digital content. Verizon doubled that strategy in 2017 with the acquisition of Yahoo for $ 4.48 billion, which it combined with AOL under the Oath umbrella.

However, Google and Facebook have proven to be great competitors in the digital advertising market. Verizon acknowledged their power in 2018 when it recorded the value of Oath at $ 4.6 billion, explaining the move in part by “increased competitive and market pressures” that led to “lower-than-expected revenue and profits.”

Under the leadership of its CEO Hans Westberg, the company instead focused on improving technology around its mobile business. In March, it agreed to pay nearly $ 53 billion for wireless licensing, which will help the company expand its next-generation 5G infrastructure. It also plans to spend $ 10 billion over the next few years to connect more cell towers and upgrade its systems. The company’s total debt already exceeds $ 180 billion.

Initially, the media business had to differentiate Verizon from its competitors by giving it unique content offerings, but it didn’t work out that way. Instead, the phone operator reached an agreement in 2019 with Disney to offer its new Disney + streaming service for free to its customers. (AT&T, by contrast, spent $ 85 billion to buy Time Warner in 2018 to create its own streaming platform, HBO Max.)

In 2018, Verizon announced the departure of Mr. Armstrong. The group was restructured and in January 2019 it laid off about 800 workers, or about 7 percent of the staff.

Last year, Verizon began dismantling the media group with the sale of HuffPost to BuzzFeed.


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