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Microsofts Ballmer Done With Talks to Buy Yahoo


Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said all acquisition talks with Yahoo! Inc. are ``done,'' even after Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang announced plans to step down. Yahoo fell as much as 20 percent in Nasdaq trading.

``We thought we had something that made sense. Didn't make sense to them. We've moved on,'' Ballmer, 52, said today at a shareholder meeting in Bellevue, Washington. He reiterated that a partnership between Microsoft and Yahoo in the Internet-search market is an ``an interesting possibility.'' There are no talks about such an agreement, he said today.

Microsoft is seeking ways to revive growth in its online advertising business as the global recession stifles customers' spending. The search unit of Yahoo would triple Microsoft's share of online queries, bringing in a new source of ad revenue. Both companies lag behind Google Inc. in searches and advertising.

``If you look at it from Microsoft's standpoint, what's the rush?'' said Martin Pyykkonen, an analyst with Wunderlich Securities in Denver, who advises selling Yahoo shares. ``You have a weak advertising market. I think Yahoo, in terms of the current quarter and the '09 outlook, there's not a lot of confidence in whatever numbers are out there.''

Shares Plunge

Yahoo fell $2.02 to $9.53 at 12:59 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares dropped to as low as $9.24 earlier in the session. Microsoft declined 64 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $18.98.

Yang, who will step down when his replacement is found, has said he is open to new Microsoft talks. Microsoft walked away from takeover discussions earlier this year after Yang rejected a $47.5 billion offer. In June, Yahoo also spurned Microsoft's proposal to buy just its search unit.

Google handled almost two-thirds of U.S. Internet searches in September, according to ComScore Inc., a research firm in Reston, Virginia. Yahoo had 20.2 percent of search queries, and Microsoft had 8.5 percent.

U.S. online advertising spending may grow 20 percent this year to $25.5 billion, according to Collins Stewart Plc. The firm revised its forecast last month from an earlier projection of 23 percent growth, citing economic conditions.




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