Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer yesterday dropped the biggest hint yet that Redmond could turn its back on rival Yahoo! if its hostile bid to buy the internet search engine is rejected.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Ballmer, speaking after a conference in Milan, said: “We know what Yahoo! is worth to us. We offered a lot of money: $44 billion. If their board thinks that’s fair, great. If not, we’ll move forward without a merger.”
His comments came a day after Yahoo! racked up better than expected quarterly results, prompting speculation that Microsoft could be forced to jack up its cash and shares offer to take over the firm.
Yahoo! has so far resisted riding off into the sunset with Microsoft - that’s despite the fact that its share price has remained consistently below the value of the bid, currently worth $30.31 per Yahoo! share.
In an open letter to the Yahoo! board earlier this month, Ballmer loudly bemoaned the search engine firm’s refusal to come to the negotiating table.
Microsoft has also set a deadline for the Yahoo! board, led by CEO and founder Jerry Wang, to agree a deal by the weekend. If the firm fails to respond, Microsoft will propose its own candidates for the board.
Yahoo! on Tuesday posted nine per cent growth in first quarter revenues, against a backdrop of economic uncertainty and Microsoft's unwelcome bid to buy the company.
Shares in Yahoo! closed down 1.65 per cent to $28.08 on Nasdaq following Ballmer’s comments. ®