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Microsoft's CEO discounts Yahoo strategy

At a Moscow technology conference, Steve Ballmer says that a Yahoo acquisition was not a strategic pursuit, even at a price tag approaching $50 billion.

Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer made a few revealing comments Friday while speaking at a technology conference in Moscow.

The take-away from his speech, according to a Reuters report: Microsoft never viewed its proposed acquisition of Yahoo as strategic.

In other words, Redmond was prepared to pay tens of billions of dollars for a non-strategic acquisition? An acquisition that would, by far, be the largest in its history? Very interesting comments, indeed.

Here are Ballmer's exact words, per Reuters:

"Yahoo was never the strategy we were pursuing, it was a way to accelerate our online advertising business," he said. "We will spend money on some acquisitions. You can do a whole lot of things with 50 billion dollars."

Yahoo may find it interesting that Ballmer rounded up his multibillion figure. When Microsoft walked away from the negotiating table on May 3, it was offering $33 per Yahoo share--making that offer worth about $47.5 billion.

Rounding a Yahoo acquisition up to $50 billion would have put it in the high $34-a-share range. Yahoo, though, was looking for something more along the lines of $37.

The two companies have since re-entered talks, but not for a whole-hog takeover. Instead, Microsoft is now looking at acquiring certain Yahoo assets, including its search business.