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Microsoft mulling another bid for Yahoo?

The software giant is talking with partners about a proposal to buy the Web pioneer, sources tell the Wall Street Journal.

Microsoft is reportedly gearing up for another bid for Yahoo.

The software giant is working with private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners and one of its investors on a proposal to buy Yahoo, according to a Wall Street Journal report that cited people familiar with the matter. The partners and assorted banks would help finance the purchase, but Microsoft would put up the lion's share of the money, sources told the newspaper.

However, that figure would most likely be much lower than Microsoft's previous offer for the Web pioneer, in which the software giant in 2008 offered first $31, then $33 per share for Yahoo--only to be famously rebuffed by management and co-founder Jerry Yang in a protracted corporate battle. Yahoo shares closed today at $15.94, up 47 cents, or 3 percent.

Earlier this week, Microsoft extended the revenue guarantees it had originally made in a 2009 search pact. That news came in connection with Yahoo's third-quarter results, which delivered a measure of good financial news for the company.

Yahoo's board has been under pressure since firing Chief Executive Carol Bartz last month in what critics say was a too little, too late move in light of the company's stagnant stock price, high employee attrition rate, and withering product development efforts.

Despite its problems, Yahoo has been attracting a lot of attention from possible suitors. Those said to be interested in taking over Yahoo include venture capitalist Andreessen Horowitz and fellow dot-com wunderkind AOL.

Adding to the intrigue is a report that Yang is looking to take the company private in an equity deal that could see Yahoo selling off its international assets, paying off debt, and then focusing on its U.S. operations.