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Microsoft and Yahoo! are close to finalising a deal on search and display advertising.

The deal which just won't die isn't over yet, but senior executives have flown from Redmond to Silicon Valley for final discussions. If the fine print can be settled, a deal could be announced within a week, All Things Digital reports.

So much for Bing then. The deal would allow Microsoft to take over Yahoo!'s search business in exchange for several billion dollars while Yahoo! would sell display ads for both firms.

One source told the website the deal is "down to the short strokes" which is apparently a reference to golf...

Of course we have been here before - much of 2008 was spent following the companies on-off romance. All Things D cautions that a deal is still some way off, but one of its sources promised that if the deal does fall through: “This will be it… we will all finally go our separate ways and be done with it.”.

By our reckoning, Yahoo!'s chief executive Carol Bartz is still on leave, so a deal might need to wait for her return.

Any deal is likely to look pretty sweet to Microsoft compared to the $44.6bn that it was offering for the firm - Yahoo's market cap is now $22.6bn. If you need a reminder of the comings and goings of this deal, all our coverage is here. ®

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