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Yahoo CEO deflects talk of selling company

The new boss of Yahoo brushed aside talk of selling the business as the struggling Silicon Valley internet empire slumped $303m into the red for the final quarter of 2008.

Just two weeks into the job, chief executive Carol Bartz admitted that Yahoo needed a sharper strategy, quicker decision-making and further streamlining. But she said: "I didn't come here to sell the company."

Yahoo ran up one-off costs of more than $600m during the quarter as it shed 1,600 jobs, equivalent to 10% of its workforce, and took a hefty accounting charge on its international operations.

For the full-year, the company remained in the black with profits of $424m, compared to $660m in 2007. But Yahoo spent $79m on advisory fees as it fended off a takeover offer from Microsoft, struck an aborted co-operation partnership with Google and wrestled with a shareholder rebellion.

Bartz, a former boss of software company Autodesk, replaced Yahoo's founder Jerry Yang to take day-to-day charge of the company. She praised the "wonderful energy" and "can-do attitude" of staff but conceded that Yahoo needed organisational change.

"This organisation is extremely complex and it's hard for people to get speedy answers and to get decisions made," said Bartz.

Yahoo's revenue fell 1% during the fourth quarter as the global advertising industry slowed in response to weakening economic conditions. But the firm took heart from a stabilising share of internet searches, suggesting that Google is no longer extending its lead as the number one player.

Last week's inauguration of President Obama produced the busiest day ever for Yahoo's news site with 12m visitors accessing 300m page views.

The figures were not as bad as Wall Street had anticipated and Yahoo's shares rose 4% during after-hours trading to $11.83 - still little more than a third of the $33-a-share offered by Microsoft a year ago.

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