Microsoft, Yahoo said in talks on search deal

The Times of London says the two companies are discussing a deal that would see Microsoft acquire Yahoo's search business for around $20 billion.

Updated 6:15 AM PST November 30

According to one report, Yahoo and Microsoft may once again be working on a search deal.

The Times of London reported this weekend that Microsoft is in talks to acquire Yahoo's search business for $20 billion. According to the paper, former AOL CEO Jonathan Miller and fomer Fox Interactive President Ross Levinsohn are set to head the effort.

"Senior directors at Microsoft and Yahoo are understood to have agreed the broad terms of a deal, but there is no guarantee that it will succeed," The Times said in its report.

Microsoft declined to comment on the report. It is worth noting that as of Friday, the market capitalization of Yahoo in its entirety was just shy of $16 billion. Microsoft was once willing to pay far more to get Yahoo, but a lot has changed since the early part of the year.

Since Microsoft made its last offer for Yahoo, Yahoo and Google have announced and abandoned a search deal, Yahoo's shares have plummeted to single digits , and the company has said it would replace Jerry Yang as CEO .

In the days following the Yang announcement, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer indicated that the company was decidedly not interested in a full acquisition of Yahoo but said that some sort of search partnership remained "an interesting possibility." CNET had earlier reported Microsoft's continuing interest in such a deal .

Update:Kara Swisher of D: All Things Digital talked to Ross Levinsohn, who the Times of London said would be involved in the $20 billion deal. He told her the report was "total fiction," and sources from Yahoo and Microsoft denied such a deal was in the works. Of course, this series of denials doesn't mean that a search deal between Yahoo and Microsoft isn't a real possibility in the near future.

About the author

    During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried has changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley. These days, most of her attention is focused on Microsoft. E-mail Ina.

     

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