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Schmidt urges Mayer to bin Bing

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It's easy for Google chairman Eric Schmidt to be playful about a future search deal with Yahoo! now that ex-Chocolate Factory Golden Girl Marissa Mayer is at the helm of the Purple Palace. Schmidt apparently hinted at just such a search pact on Tuesday.

At present, Yahoo!'s search is powered by Microsoft's Bing – but there's nothing holding Google back from snaffling such an agreement away from Redmond at some future point. And this isn't the first time Mountain View has openly flirted with Yahoo! over such a proposed affair.

During the launch of Google's latest Nexus tablet in Tokyo, Japan, Schmidt reportedly said that his company would relish the opportunity to be Yahoo!'s search buddy.

Meanwhile, Mayer has booted out Yahoo!'s chief finance officer, Tim Morse, who was brought in by the company's sacked-over-the-phone CEO Carol Bartz in 2009.

Morse has been replaced with Ken Goldman, who joins Yahoo! next month. Among other things, Goldman will be tasked with dealing with investor relations.

Mayer said the timing on his hiring was significant as Yahoo! was about to enter its "next phase of growth," which could mean that the struggling web outfit is considering acquisitions.

Indeed, Yahoo! now has some cash to spend following a recent stock buyback deal with Chinese e-commerce biz Alibaba. ®

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