Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told WSJ that a search deal makes great sense for Microsoft and Yahoo, he suggests Microsoft is still interested in acquiring Yahoo or its search business and that such a deal were better done sooner than later:
"I think good ideas are usually better done quickly than slowly, so it would probably be better for both us, and certainly for Yahoo, if we were to do it sooner than later," he said. "But at the end of the day, that would have be something Yahoo would be as interested in as I have expressed our interest."
However, Ballmer also told the Journal that Microsoft and Yahoo are not currently in talks about a deal, but also said he would not admit publicly even if they were.
It's already too late for Ballmer's wish that the deal be done quickly come true, as the two companies have been tussling over the terms of a possible deal since Microsoft first approached Yahoo on Feb. 1 with an offer to buy the company for US$44.6 billion.
But Ballmer's comments hint that the year could end with a deal finally being made after a nearly year-long back-and-forth over the price, among other things -- an ordeal that cost Yahoo co-founder and CEO Jerry Yang his job last month. Yang will retain the title of "chief Yahoo" once a successor is found, but will not participate in day-to-day activities at the company. He was widely criticized by shareholders for not taking Microsoft's initial offer when he had the chance and then back-pedaling later on his decision to hold out for a higher price.