April 15, 2016 Last Updated 7:23 am

NYT paints gloomy picture of Yahoo sale; UK press under wraps

Morning Brief: The New York Times to invest big in global digital initiative, creates new leadership team for its ‘NYT Global’ effort

The New York Times this morning previewed the sale of Yahoo, painting a gloomy picture of its prospects. Like most business stories involving a sale, no one directly involved was asked to go on the record. Instead, the story is a series of anonymous impressions of what the Yahoo black book looks like, and what potential buy4r’s impressions are of a prospective deal.

marissa-mayer-yahoo-400“In meetings and phone calls with potential bidders, Yahoo executives have offered gloomy financial projections for the current year, but have refused to discuss the outlook for 2017 or answer questions about crucial aspects of the business. Some of the three dozen or so potential suitors have even questioned what is truly for sale,” Vindu Goel and Michael J. de la Merced wrote for the Times.

“But several big companies are expected to place bids for Yahoo anyway, according to people briefed on the matter. Verizon Communications, which has publicly expressed interest in buying Yahoo’s core Internet business and merging it with its AOL division, plans to press forward with a bid, some of these people said.”

As anyone who has been involved in mergers and acquisitions will tell you – either on the buyers, sellers, or intermediaries side – there is an art to the construction of the so-called black book. The narrative is important, but the financials usually tell the tale. One thing often seen in the numbers is the lack of forecasts; another is the practice of pulling out the G&A numbers, those expenses related to overhead costs.

With a company like Yahoo, it would very easy to play with the numbers because the entire company is technically not for sale. The Alibaba stake will be retained, and if the number crunchers want to shift some costs over to that side of the ledger they can legitimately do that.

“A 90-slide presentation shown to potential Yahoo bidders is dense with figures, but even people familiar with the company’s operations have struggled to make sense of them. At the same time, Yahoo devoted just a couple of slides to important strategies, like its costly Hail Mary project to create an entirely new mobile search experience to leapfrog competitors like Google, Apple and Amazon,” the Times report states.

Just how crazy are media laws in the UK? Read this story in The Guardian about a newspaper that may have violated a court order:

“An international edition of a newspaper distributed in England appears to have breached a celebrity couple’s injunction by naming a blog that has published their identities.”

Who is the celebrity, what is the newspaper, what is the blog?

“Though it has not identified the couple itself, lawyers say the paper could be in breach of the injunction because it is making it easy for readers to find the couple’s names online.”

Give me a break.

To make matters worse, Google appears to be playing along, as well. The search giant has removed up to 31 links to the

“Google has caved in to a cheating celebrity at the centre of a gagging order row and started to remove dozens of internet links revealing his threesome with another couple,” the Daily Mail reported.

“The internet giant appears to have blocked 31 stories so far and searches for the star at the centre of the scandal bring up a message saying they are missing due to ‘a legal request’.”

In other news, Prime Minister David Cameron said he will introduce legislation renaming England. “I think the new name should be Orwellville,” the PM said.

Both stories have shutdown the comments, of course, lest someone spill the beans on the mystery celebs.

The New York Times will spend up to $50 million over the next three years to expand its digital international presence.

IHT-front“As you know, international growth was identified as one of the top editorial and commercial priorities for the company in Our Path Forward,” wrote Times executives Arthur Sulzberberg Jr., Mark Thompson and Dean Baquet. “The Times has long taken great pride in the quality and depth of its international coverage and has managed to attract tens of millions of international readers. But because our digital report is still designed and produced mainly for a U.S. audience, we have not come close to realizing our potential to attract readers outside our home market.”

The Times introduced a new team to lead the effort, with Joe Kahn and Stephen Dunbar-Johnson leading hte NYT Global effort.

The NYT has, for years, owned the International Herald Tribune, now called the International New York Times. That property dats back to 1887 when the Paris Herald was launched as the European edition of the New York Herald. When the Herald’s owner died, the New York Herald was merged with the New York Tribune, thus creating the New York Herald Tribune, with the name of the international edition changing, as well. The property eventually was co-owned by The New York Times and The Washington Post until the Post was bought out by the Times in 2002.

“At a time when journalism and independent media around the world are under acute pressure, from forces both financial and political, The New York Times has never had a better opportunity to expand its mission and its reach,” NYT management said. “Now is the moment for us to accept the challenge.”

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