Rumors that Verizon is looking for a loophole to back out of its $4.83-billion deal to purchase Yahoo’s Internet business may have some teeth after all.
Verizon’s top attorney indicated as much at a press conference Thursday, saying the massive data breach disclosed by Yahoo three weeks ago may have a “material” effect on the acquisition.
“I think we have a reasonable basis to believe right now that impact is material,” Verizon General Counsel Craig Silliman was quoted by Reuters. “And we’re looking to Yahoo to demonstrate to us the full impact. If they believe it’s not, then they’ll need to show us that, but the process is in the works.”
If the 2014 breach, which targeted more than 500 million Yahoo account holders but was only disclosed by Yahoo last month, is determined to be “material,” then it could very well stop the acquisition from occurring.
Silliman’s announcement comes after an FBI investigation into the hack confirmed the Russian government was behind the breach that Yahoo discovered only this summer.
The attorney pointed out however, that even a state-sponsored hack does not let Yahoo off the hook.
“From a legal perspective, the question ‘is it a state-sponsored attack’? isn’t really relevant in terms of what we’re looking at,” Silliman told the Washington Post. “The question is whether this [had] a material or an adverse effect on the asset we are buying.”
Yahoo and Verizon struck their $4.83-billion all-cash deal back in July and it was not until last month that Yahoo admitted it was the target of a historic breach.
Originally the Yahoo-Verizon deal was to be finalized in the first quarter of 2017. At that time, Yahoo was to be integrated with AOL under Marni Walden, EVP and president of the product innovation and new businesses organization at Verizon.
Once the Yahoo acquisition became official, Verizon would boast one of the largest portfolios of owned and partnered global brands. AOL and Yahoo together will have more than 25 popular brands in its portfolio. Yahoo’s key assets include its finance, news and sports content as well as its popular e-mail service, serving roughly 225 million monthly active users.
Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.
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