MySpace Partners Lurk: Report

The <I>Financial Times</I> says Google and Microsoft are interested.
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Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

and

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

are turning their attention to

News Corp.'s

(NWS) - Get Report

MySpace.

The fast-growing social-networking Web site is in talks with the companies about forming a search alliance, according to a report in the

Financial Times

that doesn't cite any sources.

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

, the No. 2 search engine, is "less interested" in a deal, the paper says. None of the companies could immediately be reached for comment on the story.

Signing a deal with MySpace, one of the most popular Web sites, would certainly be a coup for either Google or Microsoft, which are increasingly butting heads with one another. MySpace attracted 38 million unique visitors in April, up 367% from a year earlier, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

Social-networking sites are attractive to media and Internet companies since their users tend to stay online for long periods of time as they share content such as photos with one another. These sites also tend to attract a young audience difficult for advertisers to reach otherwise.

Though audiences have flocked to MySpace, profits have proved to be elusive.

The New York Times

reported last month that the site currently charges "bargain basement rates'' to attract advertisers.

Last year, Rupert Murdoch's media conglomerate bought MySpace for $518 million, a move that underscored the growing importance of such sites.

Facebook, a site aimed at college students that competes against MySpace, is reportedly being shopped around for as much as $2 billion.

Shares of News Corp., parent of the Fox television network and the

New York Post

, fell 6 cents to $19.62. Google gained $11.87 to $382.52, Yahoo! rose $1.04 to $31.50 and Microsoft jumped 31 cents to $23.19.