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Report: Microsoft, Yahoo! Talks Step Up

The two sides continue to haggle over price.



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are reportedly engaged in last-minute talks to reach a merger agreement on friendly terms.


Wall Street Journal

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, which previously reported that Microsoft was preparing to go hostile with its bid for Yahoo!, now says talks have suddenly intensified in the hopes that both sides can reach a more amicable deal.

At the same time, the


hedged its bets by allowing for the possibility of the talks to fail, as they have in the past.

All observers agree that going hostile would result in a lengthy and costly battle for both Microsoft and Yahoo!. Microsoft threatened to initiate a proxy fight to oust Yahoo!'s board of directors if the Internet company did not come to the table and negotiate by last Saturday. But that deadline came and went with no follow-through from either company.

The two sides are haggling over price at this point, according to

the Journal

. Microsoft's bid was originally priced at $31 a share, but sources say the company may be willing to cough up $32 or $33 a share. Yahoo!, on the other hand, has been holding out for something more along the lines of $35 to $37 a share.

Shares of Yahoo! were up 6.3%, or $1.70, in recent trading. Shares of Microsoft were down 1.4%, or 40 cents, to $29.