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5/20/2008
04:58 PM
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Microsoft Remains Mum On Yahoo Talks

The betting is that Microsoft is seeking a deal that would combine Yahoo's search operations with its own, while allowing Yahoo's portal and display advertising operations to remain independent.

Microsoft for a second straight day Tuesday remained tight lipped on details about the Internet partnership it's pursuing with Yahoo.

The company over the weekend revealed in a public statement that it had approached Yahoo "with an alternative that would involve a transaction with Yahoo but not an acquisition of all of Yahoo." Since then, however, the company has declined to elaborate.

The betting among pundits is that Microsoft is seeking a deal that would combine Yahoo's search operations with its own, while allowing Yahoo's portal and display advertising operations to remain independent. Yahoo might also spin off its Asian operations, including its stake in Chinese portal Alibaba, under such a scenario, according to numerous reports.

Together, Microsoft and Yahoo would control about 31% of the search market, compared to Google's 60%, based on data from comScore.

Separately, oil man T. Boone Pickens told CNBC on Tuesday that he has acquired 10 million shares of Yahoo to support fellow billionaire Carl Icahn's attempt replace Yahoo's current board with a pro-Microsoft merger slate at the Internet company's July 3rd shareholder meeting.

"When I saw what he did, I jumped in behind him," Pickens told CNBC, according to Bloomberg.

Yahoo's current board has rejected outright Microsoft's $33 per share takeover offer. Microsoft broke off acquisition talks earlier this month.

Yahoo on Sunday said in a statement that it's open to a Microsoft partnership, as well as other options for boosting its search business. "Yahoo's board of directors will evaluate each of our alternatives, including any Microsoft proposal, consistent with its fiduciary duties," Yahoo said.

Yahoo shares fell 0.72% in Tuesday trading, to $27.48. Microsoft shares were off 2.38% to $28.76.

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