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Search deal on table again as Microsoft's Ballmer meets with Yahoo's Bostock

January 16, 2009 | 11:44 am

BallmerMicrosoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer met with Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock in New York on Thursday, two days after Yahoo named Carol Bartz its new CEO, a person familiar with the matter said. A tipster told Valleywag that it was a lunch meeting. On the menu: getting talks going on a possible Web search deal between the companies.

Looking to sock it to search market leader Google, Ballmer had been waiting to approach Yahoo about a search partnership deal until new management was in place. So he jumped when Bartz was hired Tuesday. Ballmer told Bostock that he hoped to move quickly on a deal between the companies, the person said. Microsoft has a proposal already prepared, he added. He declined to be identified because the discussion was supposed to be private.

Yahoo and Microsoft declined to comment.

Bartz, the former Autodesk CEO, told employees at a companywide meeting this week that she needed time to get to know Yahoo's search business but that her gut instinct was not to sell it. Bartz is facing daunting challenges as she takes the reins of Yahoo, which continues to lose ground to Google. Investors are hopeful that Yahoo will strike some kind of search deal that would reduce its costs and boost its profit. 

BoomTown reported that the latest Microsoft offer would probably be similar to the past ones it has offered, with a small upfront payment and a long-term, guaranteed revenue that's hefty.

Here we go again.

-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Credit: Lee Celano / Microsoft Corp. via Getty Images