- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Steve Ballmer is still signaling an interest in a deal to buy part of Yahoo Inc.

Ballmer said at a technology and media summit Thursday in New York that a deal would help improve Microsoft’s Web search business by expanding the base of users. More people using the search engine means more advertisers. And, Ballmer says, a larger pool of advertisers will allow for more tailored ads next to search queries.

Ballmer said he has had only one conversation with Carol Bartz since she became Yahoo’s chief executive in January. Ballmer said he congratulated her and said he’d like to chat at some point about a possible deal.

Bartz’s predecessor as Yahoo CEO, Jerry Yang, rebuffed a $47.5 billion takeover offer from Microsoft last year. Since then Microsoft has said several times it would be open to a deal involving the companies’ search engines.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has continued to develop its own search technology as it struggles to catch up with Google Inc. and Yahoo. The internal name for one of Microsoft’s new search concepts is Kumo, which has prompted some quizzical comments and sneers since it was leaked in a staff memo. It probably will not be known as Kumo when it goes public, Ballmer indicated Thursday. “We need a name,” he said.

Yahoo shares rose 32 cents, 2.4 percent, to close at $13.74. Microsoft shares gained 18 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $17.14.

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