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Microsoft reportedly signs NDA to look at Yahoo's books

The move puts Microsoft one step closer to an investment in Yahoo, though the software giant would most likely bid alongside other suitors.

Microsoft has decided to sign a non-disclosure agreement with Yahoo as it ponders a bid for the struggling Internet giant, according to the New York Times.

The paper's DealBook blog reported this morning that Microsoft joins a handful of other potential suitors--including private equity firms Silver Lake and TPG Capital--that have agreed to sign the non-disclosure paperwork in order to look over Yahoo's books.

It's unlikely that Microsoft would bid for Yahoo alone. Even though the company launched a failed $44.6 billion attempt to acquire the company in 2008, it won most of what it was after with a search and advertising deala year later.

Microsoft's interest in Yahoo today is likely focused on ensuring that the search and ad deal remains intact. If the company ultimately bids for Yahoo, it would likely be in concert with another buyer or buyers. The Times reports that Microsoft held talks with potential partners including a consortium led by Silver Lake and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board.

Microsoft declined to comment on the report, and Yahoo didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reports surfaced last month that Yahoo included a ban on cross-talk as part of the non-disclosure agreement. That provision prevents suitors from discussing bidding plans with others in order to increase the possibility of multiple competitive bids.

A number of other company are reportedly kicking Yahoo's tires as well, including Yahoo's Chinese Internet partner Alibaba--which Yahoo still owns a 40 percent stake in--and Marc Andreessen's venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, among others.