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October 16, 2008 9:29 AM

UPDATE 2: Ballmer says "perhaps" another Yahoo deal, but official line is "no"

Posted by Brier Dudley

Speaking at the Gartner conference in Orlando, Florida, Steve Ballmer said he hasn't given up on a Yahoo deal, prompting YHOO to reach out of the gutter a bit (YHOO was up on the news around 14 percent, to $13.25, but it's now at $12.73, up 8 percent for the day).

But is Ballmer talking about partnering with Yahoo's search business, not buying the whole company, even though it seems like a relative bargain? Bloomberg's report says he's talking about a search deal, although he also said that an outright purchase would "still make sense economically," according to Marketwatch.

Gartner has a link to the Ballmer webcast here. I wasn't able to open it; Gartner's site is saying "the event has not yet begun."

To clarify, a Microsoft spokesman in Bellevue just issued this statement:

"Our position hasn't changed. Microsoft has no interest in acquiring Yahoo!; there are no discussions between the companies."

A search partnership would be interesting, but the big merger is what got everyone wondering. Ballmer's got to be glad that didn't come to pass, especially with Yahoo's market cap down to around $18 billion, compared to the $47.5 billion he was offering earlier this year.

If Yahoo falls just a bit more, Ballmer could afford to buy the thing himself.

Or maybe we'll be seeing Microsofties wearing t-shirts next week that say "My CEO went to Orlando and all I got was this downtrodden Internet company."

From a Bloomberg report:

"It's clear that Yahoo did not want to sell the company. It didn't want to sell when we offered $33," Ballmer said. "Perhaps there will be continuing opportunities to" talk about a search partnership in the future, he said.

If the spokesman's statement is right, maybe Ballmer's just horsing around.

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