SAN FRANCISCO — Starboard Value has asked Yahoo not to spin off its stake in Alibaba Group Holding, according to a published report.
Instead the activist investor wants Yahoo to sell its struggling Internet businesses, The Wall Street Journalreported late Wednesday.
In a letter sent to Yahoo that was reviewed by the newspaper, Starboard said the spinoff of more than $20 billion in Alibaba shares (BABA) was too risky. The stance reverses the position Starboard took last year when it urged Yahoo to spin off the Alibaba stake.
Fueling investor concerns: The Internal Revenue Service decision not to rule on whether the spin-off would ring up billions of dollars in taxes. Yahoo withdrew its request for a ruling in September but said it would proceed with the spinoff. The spinoff is expected to be completed in January.
Yahoo and Starboard could not be immediately reached for comment.
SunTrust analyst Robert Peck said this week he still believes the transaction will not incur taxes but warned that, if taxed, the taxes “could equate to more than the full value” of the Alibaba stake.
“This presents a potential significant strategic risk for the CEO,” Peck wrote in a research note. Peck also reiterated his faith in the Yahoo board.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has made no progress in her effort to turn around Yahoo, whose business has shrunk while competitors such as Google and Facebook have soared.
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