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November 19, 2008 8:40 AM
Updated: Ballmer: Microsoft "done with all acquisition discussions with Yahoo," but still open to search partnership
Posted by Benjamin J. Romano
Updated with full quote, additional information: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer restated his position on Yahoo in response to a question from a shareholder at the company's annual meeting in Bellevue this morning.
"Can you tell us what's happening with Yahoo, or not?" asked a woman who did not identify herself.
Ballmer replied: "Yeah, let me be as clear as I think I've tried to be publicly. We are done with all acquisition discussions with Yahoo. I've said that a bunch of times. Somehow, some people got confused nonetheless. We did our best. We thought we had something that made sense. If it made sense to them, we've moved on. With that said, I've also been clear that if they were interested we would still be--- I think an interesting possibility to look into search collaboration with Yahoo, as we had proposed last summer, but there's no active discussion on that front, but we'd be very open to it. But acquisition discussions are finished."
This was the first question asked in the Q&A at the shareholder gathering. Ballmer finished answering the question at about 8:44 a.m.
Shares of Yahoo started the day down and started slipping faster at about that time.
Ballmer's comments were the first official, on-the-record word from Microsoft since Yahoo announced Monday that Jerry Yang was resigning as CEO.
Microsoft offered $31 a share for Yahoo on Jan. 31, then raised its bid to $33 in May before withdrawing it entirely when Yang asked for more. Microsoft then proposed an acquisition of just Yahoo's search business -- which Microsoft saw as a way to accelerate its pursuit of search leader Google. You can relive highlights (lowlights?) of the saga here.