New York/San Francisco: Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman Warren Buffett is backing a group bidding for Yahoo! Inc.’s Internet assets, people familiar with the matter said.
The consortium, which includes Quicken Loans Inc. founder Dan Gilbert, is in the second round of bidding for Yahoo’s assets, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the bidding process is private.
Buffett didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment sent to an assistant. Quicken Loans and Rebecca Neufeld, spokeswoman for Yahoo, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday afternoon.
Yahoo helped millions of people discover e-mail and the Internet in the 1990s, but failed to keep up with changing consumer tastes and advertising techniques, losing audience and revenue to Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Google. The company in February began exploring strategic options after it scrapped a long-held plan to spin off its multibillion-dollar stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. because of concerns about a potentially hefty tax bill.
Last month, Yahoo chief executive officer Marissa Mayer said the company was moving swiftly to consider offers to buy its Web operations. Yahoo received more than 10 initial offers last month, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The bids ranged from about $4 billion to $8 billion, the people said.
Bidders include Verizon Communications Inc., YP Holdings LLC, TPG, and a consortium led by Bain Capital LP and Vista Equity Partners LLC, people familiar with the matter said last month.
Gilbert is perhaps best known today for owning the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers. He started Quicken Loans, a big online retail mortgage lender in the US, at age 23 with $5,000. He’s now chairman of Quicken and its parent, Rock Holdings, which at one point owned 29 companies in areas as diverse as designer sneakers and private equity.
Buffett, 85, has a long history of providing financing for buyouts. In 2014, Berkshire put up $3 billion to help Burger King Worldwide Inc. with its takeover of Canadian doughnut chain Tim Hortons Inc. The billionaire also backed Mars Inc.’s deal for Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.
Berkshire already has links with Yahoo. Buffett turned to the Web portal to broadcast his company’s famous annual shareholder meeting online for the first time this year. And Susan Decker, a Berkshire board member since 2007, previously held various executive roles at Yahoo.
Shares of Yahoo rose more than 1% in after-hours trading on Friday.
Reuters reported the group’s involvement in the bidding, and Buffett’s backing, earlier Friday.