Microsoft, Yahoo May Join Forces in Search Business

Bloomberg – Microsoft Corp., the software maker that scrapped a $47.5 billion bid for Yahoo! Inc. this month, may forge a partnership with the Internet company in the search- advertising market to challenge Google Inc.

Microsoft, which abandoned its takeover attempts May 3, said yesterday that it’s exploring a transaction with Yahoo and may renew attempts to buy the entire company. The two may combine units that sell ads that run next to Internet search results, said Morningstar Inc. analyst Toan Tran.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is pressuring Yahoo to ally itself with Microsoft to compete with Google, which dominates the Internet search market. Icahn, backed by investors such as hedge- fund manager John Paulson, plans to oust Yahoo’s board if Chief Executive Officer Jerry Yang fails to sell to Microsoft.

“Carl Icahn is in this to make a quick buck, so whatever helps him make money he’ll be happy with,” said Tran, who is based in Chicago and doesn’t own shares of either company. “What Carl Icahn definitely wants is an outright sale of Yahoo to Microsoft at some price higher than what it is now.”

Microsoft has offered to buy Yahoo’s search unit and take a minority stake in the company after Yahoo gets rid of its holdings in Asia, Reuters reported today, citing a person familiar with the talks. Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw declined to confirm or deny the report, while Yahoo spokeswoman Diana Wong declined to comment.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, fell 53 cents to $29.46 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo rose 2 cents to $27.68, while Google dropped $2.55 to $577.52.

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