Yahoo Calls In Advisors To Weigh The Future Of Its 35.5%, $9B Stake In Yahoo Japan

During a video stream discussing Yahoo’s Q1 earnings today, CEO Marissa Mayer noted that Yahoo has closed down 17 offices since she joined the company as part of a wider efficiency strategy. And it looks like Yahoo is eyeing up one more big downsize in its international profile: the company has retained advisors to decide what to do with its 35.5%, $9 billion stake in Yahoo Japan, a longtime portal in the country that Yahoo operates as a joint venture with Softbank.

Would this be a full sale of the stake? Or a partial sell-off, a la Groupon’s move with Ticket Monster? We won’t know for a while yet. Mayer highlighted that whatever the company decides to do with the stake will be a “key priority” but would also require “careful study.”

Later, CFO Ken Goldman also reiterated her words, noting: “We remain focused on maximizing value of our stake” in Yahoo Japan.

Yahoo’s 35.5% stake is estimated to be worth nearly $9 billion. It’s the company’s second major investment in Asia, alongside Yahoo’s $40 billion stake in e-commerce giant Alibaba. That stake is getting spun off into a separate entity.

Yahoo itself apparently makes revenues of $250 million annually from Yahoo Japan through search and ad agreements, according to one analyst asking a question during the earnings stream. When asked about how a sell-off would impact those revenues, Goldman replied that he’d “rather not speculate… We will work with financial advisors [to see what would] make the most sense.”

Unsurprisingly the news is helping to send up Yahoo’s shares after they slumped in the wake of the company reported earnings that showed declines in revenue and profit.

Mayer said that a plan will be announced in a future call.

Softbank and Yahoo first formed the JV in 1996, as Japan’s first web portal. Amazingly, it continues to hold out by using Yahoo’s old logo.

The business listed on Tokyo’s stock exchange in 1997. Those shares are also trading up at the moment. Softbank, an Alibaba shareholder like Yahoo, has been on an investment tear in the wake of Alibaba going public. It could potentially be one buyer of Yahoo’s share.

Yahoo under Mayer has largely concentrated its efforts and investments in its home market of the U.S.. It also has spun off its $40 billion stake

But while there have been notable closures and layoffs in Asia, it looks like there will be investment in other places. Mayer noted today that Taiwan and Hong Kong remain strong markets for Yahoo at the moment, and could be ripe ground for expansions of some of its newer acquisitions.

“We see an opportuniy to take our new acquisitions like Tumblr, Flurry, and Brightroll into these markets,” she said. “We’re looking at how can we take those investments and use them to help achieve the footprint we want internationally.”