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Yahoo Falling – Microsoft Jumps at the Kill

Microsoft Offers $44.6B for Yahoo.

Microsoft Corp. has pounced on slumping Internet icon Yahoo Inc. with an unsolicited takeover offer of $44.6 billion in its boldest bid yet to challenge Google Inc.’s dominance of the lucrative online search and advertising markets. The Justice Department says it is interested in reviewing antitrust issues associated with it.

The surprise offer of $31 per share, made late Thursday and announced Friday, seizes on Yahoo’s weakness while Microsoft tries to muscle up in a high-stakes battle with Google likely to define the technology landscape for years to come.

In a statement Friday, Yahoo said it will “carefully and promptly” study Microsoft‘s bid.

With its profits steadily sliding, Yahoo‘s stock slipped to a four-year low earlier this week and a new management team has been trying to steer a turnaround but sees more turbulence through 2008.

The announcement lifted Yahoo‘s share price by almost 50 percent in morning trading, while Google fell almost 8 percent, dragged down by a fourth-quarter earnings report that missed Wall Street expectations.

In conference call Friday morning, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer indicated he won’t take no for an answer after Yahoo rebuffed takeover overtures a year ago.

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