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Yahoo could land in British hands as major newspaper takes an interest

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The owner of British newspaper and online site the Daily Mail is said to be mulling a bid for struggling Web firm Yahoo.

As Yahoo’s April 18 bid deadline fast approaches, the Mail’s parent company, London-based General Trust, is considering an offer, sources with knowledge of the matter told the Wall Street Journal on Sunday.

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It’s by no means certain that the Mail’s owner will secure a deal, as plenty of other big-name companies – Microsoft, Google, Time, and Verizon to name just a few – are also reported to be considering bids.

Verizon is thought to be the strongest contender at the current time, with the AOL owner interested in using Yahoo’s assets to bolster its digital media and ad businesses.

The Mail confirmed to the BBC that it’s talking with a number of private-equity firms about the possibility of making an offer for California-based Yahoo. Any offer from the Mail owner could possibly go one of two ways, according to the Journal’s sources. In the first, a private-equity partner might buy up Yahoo’s core Web business, while the Mail would take control of its news and media products. Alternatively, the private-equity firm could acquire Yahoo’s core Web business and merge its media and news properties with the Mail’s online operations.

The Daily Mail has built a hugely successful online site since launching it in 2003. Featuring mostly celebrity-focused content, the company four years ago rolled out a U.S. version of the site that in February this year pulled in 66.7 million unique U.S. visitors, comScore data showed. Any acquisition by the Mail’s owner would therefore give it a chance to dig even deeper into the American market.

Current Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer took the reins of the company in 2012, promising to to turn the company around after years of disappointing results. However, despite vigorous streamlining efforts and product enhancements, slow growth has remained a major issue for the company, a factor that recently prompted Yahoo investor Starboard Value to call for the replacement of the company’s board – including Mayer.

Yahoo’s invitation for bid proposals last month has reportedly led to as many as 40 companies expressing an interest. While some potential bidders like the Mail are thought to be looking closely at in Yahoo’s core Web business, others are also examining the company’s sizable investments in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan as part of any potential deal.

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