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Thu, May 08, 2008 - Page 10 News List

Gates says Microsoft going independent after failed bid

AP , TOKYO AND SEOUL

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said yesterday the company wasn’t pursuing other deals following the withdrawal of its US$47.5 billion takeover bid for Yahoo.

He said in Tokyo that the company put “a lot of effort” into the talks with Yahoo and has decided the two should pursue “independent paths.”

Over the weekend, Microsoft withdrew its three-month-old unsolicited bid for Yahoo after seeing the impasse with Yahoo’s board over a mutually acceptable sales price.

“Now at this point Microsoft is focused on its independent strategy,” Gates told reporters at a news conference in Tokyo.

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer had orally offered to pay US$33 per share, or US$47.5 billion, for Yahoo — up from an initial bid valued at US$44.6 billion, or US$31 per share.

Yahoo’s board wanted US$37 per share — a price that the company’s stock hasn’t reached in more than two years.

Microsoft trails Google in the online search and advertising markets, and the bid for Yahoo was an attempt at turning that around.

But Gates said that Microsoft was determined to make “advances” in its own search offering and meetings were in the works in Seattle to hammer out more specific plans.

“We will make the advances that give people a great choice there,” he said.

Gates makes periodic trips to Asia, and he was in Japan two years ago.

He said he met with business partners in Japan, which he sees as an important market. Talks covered digital broadcast software for Windows-based personal computers and giving free downloads of Microsoft software to Japanese students.

Gates met South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Tuesday at the presidential Blue House before flying to Tokyo.

Lee named Gates to his global advisory committee and the Blue House said later in a statement that Microsoft, as well as the South Korean government and companies would invest a total of US$313 million in information technology for vehicles, games and education.

Microsoft also said on Tuesday that it would invest US$280 million to build a research and development center in Beijing and would double the number of its full-time R&D staff in China to 3,000 in three to five years.

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