Verizon Communications Inc. and others are expected to bid around $2 billion to $3 billion in the auction for Yahoo Inc. s core business, less than what the troubled Internet pioneer was expected to fetch, according to people familiar with the matter.

The telecom giant is considered the front-runner in a field that includes private-equity buyers, some of whom are expected to bid in the low end of that range, the people said.

Bidders have lowered their expected prices following weeks of sale presentations by Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer at the company s Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters and its disclosure of data that detailed the company s flagging prospects.

Dan Gilbert, the Detroit investor and founder of Quicken Loans, is also in the mix and may be backed by billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

Youssef Squali, an analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald, last month estimated the business is worth between $4 billion and $5 billion.

In meetings with potential suitors, Ms. Mayer has acknowledged that the company is still in the middle of a turnaround, according to one person who attended a meeting.

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