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Yahoo closes GeoCities merger, beats the bubble

Yahoo closes GeoCities merger, beats the bubble

Portal leader Yahoo completed its $US4 billion acquisition of community site GeoCities on Friday, absorbing more than 4 million Web homesteaders but jettisoning about two-thirds of the GeoCities staff.

Yahoo is issuing 21.545 million shares in the all-stock transaction and will also convert 8.6 million GeoCities stock options into 5.82 million Yahoo options, pushing the total value of the deal to just over $US4 billion. The company will also take a one-time $US68 million charge in the second quarter for expenses related to the acquisition.

GeoCities stockholders should do well, even amid fears of the end of the Internet stock bubble. When the acquisition was announced on January 28, Yahoo promised to swap 10.613 million shares at a value of $US183.875 a share, or $US1.95 billion. Soon after, Yahoo split its own stock, doubling the number of shares in the purchase. Even with a recent downturn in the market, those Yahoo shares are worth $US3.19 billion. Throw in the options, and the total climbs to $US4 billion. At least for now.

Who will cash in remains a question. Of GeoCities' 319 employees, only about 100 will keep their jobs, Yahoo said. The layoffs will affect several divisions, but GeoCities' staff in engineering, customer service and community production are more likely to stay, a Yahoo spokeswoman said. She refused to comment on reports of generous severance packages.

Overseeing the transition will be former GeoCities chief operating officer and chief financial officer Steve Hansen, now a Yahoo vice president. GeoCities president and chief executive officer Tom Evans will also remain with the company as vice president of industry relations. GeoCities founder David Bohnett will serve as an outside advisor to Yahoo. He will not join the Yahoo board of directors nor draw a salary from the company, the spokeswoman said.


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