27 October 2016
Yahoo's 384 million shares of Alibaba were worth US$22.75 billion as of Monday. Photo: Bloomberg
Yahoo's 384 million shares of Alibaba were worth US$22.75 billion as of Monday. Photo: Bloomberg

Yahoo to spin off Alibaba stake even without tax ruling

Yahoo Inc. said it will proceed with the planned spinoff of its stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. even though the US Internal Revenue Service has declined to rule on whether the transaction would be tax free, Reuters reported.

The web search company said earlier this month the IRS had denied its request for a private letter ruling on whether the spinoff of its stake in the Chinese e-commerce giant would be considered tax free.

The spinoff will remain subject to certain other conditions including the receipt of a legal opinion on the tax-free treatment of the deal under US federal tax laws, Yahoo said in a regulatory filing.

Based on Alibaba’s share price at the close of trading on Monday, US$59.24, Yahoo’s 384 million shares of Alibaba are worth US$22.75 billion.

The value of the stake is slightly less than Yahoo’s market capitalization of about US$25.98 billion based on 941 million shares outstanding on July 31 and Monday’s close.

Many analysts say Yahoo’s core business is worth close to nothing without its Asian assets.

As of Monday’s close, Yahoo’s shares have declined a little more than 45 percent this year. Alibaba’s shares have fallen nearly 45 percent over the same period.

Investors have closely followed plans for the spinoff, seeing it as a way to unlock value from the company.

Yahoo paid US$1 billion in 2005 for a 40 percent stake in Alibaba, in a deal credited to the US company’s co-founder Jerry Yang.

Yahoo, which expects to complete the deal in the forth quarter ending Dec. 31, has been trying to revive its core online advertising business by spending more to get users on its websites.

Analysts and shareholders believe the company and its stake in Alibaba would be worth more separately, as long as the spinoff is not subject to tax incurred from selling the shares.

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