Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Exclusive: Silver Lake Finally Signs Yahoo NDA, as Talks Proceed With Bidders

Score one for Yahoo, it seems, getting some key private equity firms to sign its restrictive non-disclosure agreement to allow them a special peek at its business.

And now that includes Silver Lake, which has already had several discussions with Yahoo management and its board members, including co-founder Jerry Yang.

Silver Lake, which has perhaps been among the more aggressive of the possible bidders for Yahoo, had been a significant holdout over the NDA, because of provisions it felt were too onerous.

That included restricting “cross-talk” among the variety of suitors interested. Sources said Silver Lake had been discussing various scenarios related to Yahoo that might take a consortium of players to realize.

It seems it will agree to none of that, for now at least, joining several others who have also signed on the dotted line of secrecy. While Yahoo could have agreed to changes in the NDA, sources said the one Silver Lake agreed to was the same as others previously signed.

Those NDA-ready PE firms include TPG Capital and KKR. As of today, other bidders — such as Providence Equity Partners, Bain Capital, Blackstone and Hellman & Friedman — have not yet signed the document.

Yahoo had extended a deadline for doing to into this week, but firms can also get involved in later rounds of talks.

In addition, signing the NDA is not the end of the road for those who do not — Yahoo is a prominent public company and there are plenty of sources to talk to about its prospects.

But getting cooperation of Yahoo management could be critical, unless a bidder is contemplating making an unsolicited offer.

And that would be a tough road — just ask Microsoft.

Most of all, getting everyone to sign is important for Yahoo, which wants to control any sales or investment process and wants to avoid bidders taking control of its fate.

Thus, Silver Lake accepting the NDA is a big deal, since it had been considering hooking up with China’s Alibaba Group in a possible bid for all or part of Yahoo.

In addition, it has had success in a smaller but similar scenario around Internet telephony giant Skype, which it eventually sold to Microsoft for a lucrative upside.

As with Skype, Silver Lake is still working with Andreessen Horowitz, as I had previously reported. In fact, principal Marc Andreessen was present in a recent informational meeting Silver Lake had with Yahoo’s Yang.

I asked Silver Lake for comment about the NDA, bur it, um, deflected my swooping inquiry (inside joke alert!).


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