By Cristina Alesci, Seth Fiegerman and Charles Riley
PHILADELPHIA (CNN) — It’s official: Yahoo’s days as an independent company are over.
Verizon has agreed to pay $4.83 billion for Yahoo, the companies said before markets opened Monday.
The sale completes Yahoo’s evolution from influential search pioneer and web portal juggernaut to, in the end, a once-dominant brand that lost its way.
Parties as diverse as Warren Buffett and The Daily Mail were interested in buying Yahoo. But after a sale process that dragged on for months, Verizon, long viewed as the frontrunner, is walking away with Yahoo’s more than one billion monthly active users.
The sale includes Yahoo’s core internet properties and real estate holdings. Yahoo shareholders will keep the company’s lucrative investments in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and Yahoo Japan. The deal must be approved by regulators and is expected to be finalized early next year.
The sale puts an end to Yahoo’s 21-year history as an independent company. Yahoo will now be integrated with Verizon-owned AOL under Marni Walden, an executive vice president at the telecom company.
It also ends a turnaround effort by Marissa Mayer, who joined Yahoo four years ago and promised to revitalize the company. Verizon and Yahoo did not immediately comment on who will lead Yahoo once the deal is complete. It is widely expected that Mayer will step down.
Tim Armstrong, the CEO of Verizon-owned AOL, said he has “enormous respect for what Yahoo has accomplished” and that integrating the two former internet powerhouses will “create a new powerful competitive rival in mobile media, and an open, scaled alternative offering for advertisers and publishers.”
Mayer, like Armstrong, previously worked at Google before taking over the top spot at Yahoo in 2012. She invested heavily in improving Yahoo’s mobile products, expanding its audience through the acquisition of Tumblr and doubling down on premium media content. She brought in TV journalist Katie Couric as Yahoo’s “global anchor.”
But Mayer struggled to slow Yahoo’s overall ad sales decline.
On a conference call with shareholders last week after reporting earnings, Mayer made what may have been her final case to investors and the public that she worked to “create a better Yahoo.”
But the sale price suggests that Yahoo’s glory days ended long ago. In 2008, for example, Microsoft was willing to pay more than $45 billion for Yahoo, an offer that was rebuffed by co-founder Jerry Yang.
Yahoo was synonymous with the Internet itself in the late ’90s. But for Verizon, the deal is about more than just nostalgia. The telecom company has invested in digital content and advertising in recent years, buying AOL and the Huffington Post.
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