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Microsoft bidding for publishing giant?

Are the stock markets recycling an old rumour, or is this serious?

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Microsoft is once again rumoured to be on the trail of European publishing giant Reed Elsevier, whose shares kicked upwards this afternoon on expectation of a bid. The Anglo-Dutch giant was tipped as a possible Redmond acquisition earlier this year, but at that point nothing came of it. The rationale, such as it is, would be that by acquiring a major publishing company Microsoft would be able to add content to distribution - or at least to what it has planned for distribution. Reed Elsevier is long on content, but generally held to be short on direction. The company issued a profits warning a couple of weeks back, so could be thought of as a bargain from Microsoft's point of view. If Microsoft really is considering a deal, there's probably an element of 'what the hell' to it. The company spent a bit of time over the past few years trying not to do things that brought the regulators down on its neck, and look what happened anyway. We at The Register are of course far too grown up to snigger about the number of British computer publications that might fall into the clutches of His Billness. Far too grown up to do it before it happens, anyway... ®

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