The private equity firm has been on a buying spree in recent months, announcing deals to acquire craft retailer Michaels and the Venetian resort in Las Vegas. He also experienced an upheaval in his senior ranks, with his co-founder, Leon Black, announcing at the end of March that he was stepping down as president after it was revealed that he had paid more than $ 150 million to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Apollo declined to comment. Verizon did not respond to requests for comment. Bloomberg, which first announced the expected deal, said Verizon would retain a stake in the media branch.
The deal would mark the dismantling of a strategy Verizon announced in 2015 when it acquired washed-out internet giant AOL for $ 4.4 billion. The purchase was intended to give Verizon a path to mobile, with the goal of using AOL’s advertising technology to sell advertisements for digital content. Verizon doubled that strategy in 2017 with its acquisition of Yahoo for $ 4.48 billion, which it combined with AOL under the umbrella of Oath.
But Google and Facebook have proven to be formidable competitors in the digital advertising market. Verizon recognized its power in 2018 when it reduced the value of Oath by $ 4.6 billion, attributing the move in part to “increased competitive and market pressures” which had resulted in “revenues and profits below expectations ”.
Under the leadership of its CEO, Hans Vestberg, the company has instead focused on improving the technology around its mobile business. In March, it agreed to pay nearly $ 53 billion to obtain licenses for the wireless waves that will help the company expand its next-generation 5G infrastructure. It also plans to spend $ 10 billion over the next few years to wire more cell towers and upgrade its systems. The company’s total debt now exceeds $ 180 billion.
The media industry originally aimed to differentiate Verizon from its competition by offering it unique content offerings, but it didn’t work that way. Instead, the phone operator made an agreement in 2019 with Disney to offer its new free Disney + streaming service to its customers. (AT&T, on the other hand, spent $ 85 billion to buy Time Warner in 2018 to create its own streaming platform, HBO Max.)
In 2018, Verizon announced Mr. Armstrong’s departure. The group was restructured and in January 2019 it laid off around 800 workers, or around 7% of the workforce.
Last year, Verizon began dismantling the media group with the sale of HuffPost to BuzzFeed.