Bloomberg and others are reporting that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said this morning a deal between his company and Yahoo may still make sense economically for shareholders and that “[p]erhaps there will be continuing opportunities to” talk about a search partnership in the future.
(Update, 10:38 a.m.: Microsoft just poured cold water on this one, issuing the following statement: “Our position hasn’t changed. Microsoft has no interest in acquiring Yahoo!; there are no discussions between the companies.”)
Ballmer was speaking at the Gartner ITXpo conference in Orlando, Fla. (See his full quote, in context, here.)
Microsoft bid $31 a share for Yahoo in January and after months of fruitless back-and-forth, Ballmer removed his offer, which had climbed as high as $33 a share. Yahoo closed yesterday at $11.75, but jumped about 14 percent today to around $13 in heavy trading as word of Ballmer’s comments spread.
MarketWatch reports Ballmer doesn’t know what price Yahoo might be willing to accept.
“Ballmer said that even with the recent drop in Yahoo’s share price, the company ‘probably thinks its still worth as least as much today,’ as when Microsoft made its offer.”
It’s hard to know from the snippets of coverage out so far whether Ballmer is contemplating a full buy of Yahoo or a search-only deal, which would be cleaner. Ballmer said there are no discussions between the companies now, Bloomberg reported.
A link to a Webcast of Ballmer’s keynote interview is posted here, however it was not yet available when I checked this morning.