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Verizon Is Said to Be Near a Deal to Acquire Yahoo

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Yahoo’s corporate campus in Sunnyvale, Calif. Credit Noah Berger/Bloomberg

The end of Yahoo as an independent company may be near, and Verizon — long considered the leading contender to buy the aging web pioneer — is the most likely acquirer.

The two companies are in advanced talks over a takeover of Yahoo that could be worth close to $ 5 billion, a person briefed on the matter said on Friday.

Any transaction would be for Yahoo’s core internet business, although it is unclear whether a deal would also include other assets like real estate or patents.

Both companies are hoping to announce a deal as early as next week, this person said. Verizon is scheduled to report earnings on Tuesday.

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Still, no final deal has been reached and the talks could still falter, the person cautioned. One of the other finalists could also re-emerge with a higher bid.

A spokesman for Verizon declined to comment, and a representative for Yahoo did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The state of discussions between Yahoo and Verizon was reported earlier by Bloomberg.

Shares of Yahoo were up 0.9 percent in Friday morning trading.

When Yahoo finally began exploring a sale of its core business — a sprawling collection of properties including its sports and news sites, email and the social network Tumblr — Verizon was considered the front-runner by analysts and investors. The telecommunications behemoth already owned AOL, another onetime internet darling that had fallen far from its peak.

Bankers for Yahoo cast a wide net for the auction, and a number of potential suitors emerged. The field winnowed down to a handful of bidders, which included AT&T, private equity firms like TPG Capital, and the Quicken Loans co-founder Dan Gilbert, with the backing of Warren E. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

But people involved in the process long believed that Verizon, with its enormous cash pile and its ability to wring efficiencies by merging Yahoo with AOL, was the most likely winner.

Yahoo, the internet portal giant, has been struggling in the face of stiff competition. It is in the final stages of a lengthy bidding process for its core services of search, email, advertising and media operations.

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