Yahoo suitors will offer up their third round of bids tomorrow, according to sources close to the situation, yet another sluggish step in the endless process that has become the sale of the former Silicon Valley powerhouse.
Remaining bidders — including Verizon and a group headed by Quicken Loans’ Dan Gilbert — have been told that the final selection process will take place around July 18.
For those just tuning in: Gilbert, who is fresh off a big win after his Cleveland Cavaliers bested the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals, has the financial backing of Warren Buffett. The effort by Verizon, the telecom giant that has long been considered the front-runner for Yahoo, is being led by AOL head Tim Armstrong.
Those bids and others from private equity players such as TPG have ranged from about $3.5 billion to over $5 billion, depending on whether patent and real estate assets are included.
That’s obviously quite low — especially compared to the recent fast and furious $26 billion sale of LinkedIn to Microsoft, which included a number of other bidders. More to the point, it’s not much more than Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has paid out for a spate of largely unsuccessful acquisitions in her four-year tenure.
It will be interesting to see how activist shareholder Starboard Value — whose leader Jeffrey Smith now has several Yahoo board seats — will react to what are essentially subpar offers for the company. He had pushed for the sale and now is presiding over what could be a very tepid one.
While some involved have predicted that the low, low prices offered might cause no sale to happen at all, Yahoo shares have jumped several dollars in the last month as investors anticipate the eventual deal. In addition, rumors of more buyers entering the scene continue to circulate, such as the notion that SoftBank (owner of Yahoo Japan, in which Yahoo holds a big stake) could make an offer now that former Googler Nikesh Arora has left. He was pushing for an end to large annual fees that Yahoo was paid by the Japanese company for its ownership in the asset, but was against any bid.
Yahoo held what could be its final annual shareholder meeting last week. There, Mayer had nothing to say about the sales process but did note that her turnaround efforts continue to show promise. We’ll see results of that contention on July 19, a day after the final pick could be named, when Yahoo is most likely to announce its second-quarter earnings.
If those results are bad, as expected, it won’t be good; hence the impetus to get some outcome before those financials are out there and stinking up the place.
What else? Not much, but in this ongoing soap opera, you never know. Perhaps some news will come out of the annual Allen & Co. event taking place in Sun Valley this week— although it is highly unlikely, given that the Kabuki montage of shorts-wearing moguls being licked up and down is pretty much all the coverage you get from there. In any case, many of the Yahoo bidders, except apparently not Mayer, are expected to attend, so perhaps there will be some chatter around the billionaire campfire.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.