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eSpotting denies rumor of sale to Yahoo

Overture Services' shares were down as much as 9 percent on Friday after rumors surfaced that Yahoo, one of its chief customers, is in talks to buy the company's European rival, eSpotting, which denied any such negotiations. Chrys Philalithes, spokeswoman for pay-per-click search engine eSpotting, wrote in an e-mail that the rumors were untrue and that the company "is not for sale." Yahoo spokeswoman Diana Lee would not comment on the speculation. Overture could not be immediately reached for comment.

The rumors fan the flames on heated competition in the search engine marketing business, of which Overture has ruled over. To better compete overseas, Pasadena, Calif.-based Overture recently purchased search technology from Norway-based Fast Search & Transfer.