Analyst: Not So Many Bidders For Yelp Inc.

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The list of potential bidders for Yelp Inc.
YELP
is shorter than many believe, an analyst said Thursday. Axiom Capital's Victor Anthony ran through a list of a half-dozen prominent possible bidders. "Point is, upon further thinking, the list of potential acquirers for Yelp dwindles," Anthony said. Wide speculation about suitors emerged Thursday following an unconfirmed Wall Street Journal report that the San Francisco-based consumer review company is exploring a sale for a possible $3.5 billion. http://www.wsj.com/articles/yelp-is-exploring-a-sale-1431018383 Anthony is "hard pressed" to see why Google Inc.
GOOGL
or Facebook Inc.
FB
would make the leap, "given that both are organically replicating the review aspect of Yelp's business model." Yahoo! Inc.
YHOO
could boost revenue growth with Yelp, but Anthony the acquisition fits poorly with its stated strategy. And Yahoo is "certain to see meaningful investor pushback" if it offers top dollar for Yelp, according to Anthony. Alibaba Holding Ltd.
BABA
could gain an entry into the U.S. market via Yelp, but a standalone eBay Inc.
EBAY
would be "a much more coveted prize," Anthony said. That leaves Priceline Group Inc.
PCLN
and Expedia Inc.
EXPE
. "We are stretching with the online travel companies but there are not entirely out of the realm of possibility," Anthony said, citing Priceline's $2.6 billion acquisition last year of the restaurant reservations company OpenTable. A price of $3.5 billion for Yelp appears to suggest about $53.80 a share. Yelp closed up 23 percent at $47.01 Thursday, and trended down slightly after hours recently to $46.70.
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