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Ballmer stirs excitement with Yahoo! comments

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Investors desperate for a scrap of good news have been buoyed by comments from Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer that a Yahoo! still makes sense.

Shares in Yahoo! jumped to more than $13 from their recent low of $11.50, and Microsoft was up over one per cent to more than $22.00 after Ballmer uttered his fateful words. Nasdaq and the Dow were also up around one percentage point.

Prompting the excitement was Ballmer's reported comment that a deal with Yahoo! still make sense economically for both companies' shareholders.

During an on-stage interview with analysts at Gartner's annual Symposium/ITexpo, Ballmer said: "I still think it would make sense economically for their shareholders and ours."

Ballmer added he didn't know what price would have made Yahoo! agree to a deal. "They didn't want to sell when we offered $33, [and] they probably still think it's worth at least as much today."

Before Wall St. could get too excited, Ballmer noted Microsoft isn't engaged in acquisition talks with Yahoo. Microsoft also reportedly said it has no interest in acquiring Yahoo!, and the companies are not in discussions.

Bootnote

Ballmer is probably quietly relieved he withdrew from the deal six months ago, given the way the market has turned. Yahoo! rejected his offer of $33 a share, saying it was not enough. Since then, Yahoo!'s shares have lost more than half their value: Yahoo! was trading around $27 in May. An agreement would have left Microsoft out of pocket and raised questions about Ballmer's judgment. ®

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