Altaba (AABA), the remnants of Yahoo after the sale of its core Internet assets to Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), which began trading under its new symbol in June of 2017, is seeing its stock march higher this year. This raises the question: What is this company all about anyway?
In an SEC filing from June 2017, Altaba is described as an investment firm that is tasked with overseeing what’s left of Yahoo's patent portfolio and its major positions in Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba (BABA) and Yahoo Japan, as well as smaller investments in other companies. The name is a play on the word "alternate" combined with the name Alibaba.
A Big Delicious Stake
With shares of Alibaba surging on any given day, investors may be betting that they can get a better deal on the Chinese ecommerce giant via Altaba which is why those shares are moving higher. Altaba holds a stake in Alibaba worth about $78 million, and Alibaba as a whole was valued at around $524 billion as of January 2018.
While the former Yahoo basically looks like a holding company for a stake in the Chinese retailer, Yahoo warned in a regulatory filing that Alibaba could get hit with a massive tax bill of as much as 36.5% if it tried to buy back the shares. As a result, Altaba’s stock will likely rise as shares of Alibaba do. In 2017, shares of Alibaba rose 2.32%. As of January 2018, shares were trading at about $204. Shares of Altaba rose 2.06% during 2017 and were trading at around $80 per share in January 2018.
When Altaba was created, investors also got access to a stake in Yahoo Japan valued at $7.7 billion by owning shares of the new entity. The company also had $12 billion in cash and marketable debts, $130 million in minority investments including in Snap Inc. (SNAP), the marker of the app Snapchat, and a $740 million stake in Excalibur, which is a unit of the new company that holds patents of Yahoo that were not sold to Verizon.
Tasked with leading Altaba was Yahoo board member Thomas McInerney. McInerney, formerly the chief financial officer for IAC/InterActiveCorp. (which owns Investopedia), who had been a board member since 2012 and sat on the independent board committee charged with selling Yahoo’s core internet assets.