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Yahoo! could sell off European non-core assets

Yahoo! will consider selling off or closing down underperforming areas of its European business if they fail to make a substantial improvement by the first quarter of next year, according to its head of European operations.

Toby Coppel, Yahoo!'s managing director for Europe, said the company was scrutinising the performance of its European operations, emphasising that it was a region that needed to start matching the levels achieved in the US and Asia.

The businesses that could be sold off include Kelkoo, the price comparison website that Yahoo! bought in 2005.

The company aims to focus on investing more in products that will help it grow its global audience reach, including news and stock market information.

It is understood that Yahoo! wishes to focus on key areas of its search operations which customers use on a daily basis. Any non-core aspects of its business have between now and the end of the first quarter of next year to prove their worth to senior management.

Yahoo!'s individual share prices have suffered in the last year, as the company has failed to make substantial gains on Google.

Yahoo! founder Jerry Yang, who replaced chief executive Terry Semel in June, has said that previously there were "no sacred cows" in realigning Yahoo!'s digital operations in order to close ground on Google.

However, the company has undergone a raft of exits by senior management in the last six months, including Semel, chief marketing officer Cammie Dunaway, and head of global sales Gregory Coleman.

Nearly half of the group's 15-strong executive team has now left the company.

Most recently Jon Gisby, vice-president of media and communications for Yahoo! Europe, and a former UK managing director has left. He takes up the post of director of new media and technology at Channel 4.

According to Comscore figures, Yahoo! has an 18% share in the US search market and a 14% stake worldwide. However, the figure stands at just 3.2% for Europe.

Yahoo!'s audience reach in the region is 42% compared with 76.2% globally and 60.5% in the US.

Coppel, who was promoted to European managing director from US chief strategy officer in April, said: "If you make the content more relevant, people will come. If you make a great product, they will come."

He said that Yahoo!'s rush to put out new products quickly meant it had "built a lot of applications that didn't speak to each other. We didn't have the same resources [in Europe]. We were managing a larger number of legacy products with fewer people than in the States."

Last month, Yahoo! reported a 5% fall in third quarter pre-tax profits to $151m (£74.2m), while overall revenues for the three months to September rose by 12% to $1.77bn against $1.58bn in the same period last year.

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