Microsoft is reportedly in talks with Time Warner to negotiate possible terms of a break-up that could see the software giant seize control of Yahoo!'s online search business.
The Wall Street Journal. reports that representatives from Time Warner's AOL operation have visited Seattle to talk with the computer giant .
The paper reports that Executives of AOL, the internet arm of Time Warner, met for formal talks with Microsoft yesterday afternoon to discuss a $40bn (£20bn) break-up of Yahoo!.
The talks, thought to be preliminary, precede Yahoo!'s annual meeting on August 1, when the activist billionaire shareholder Carl Icahn will seek to oust the board.
The "casual" discussions between the New York-based company and Microsoft have been going on for several months, the paper reports.
Microsoft has been trying to buy Yahoo! for the past 18 months. At the end of January this year, Microsoft offered to pay $31 a share in cash and Microsoft stock for Yahoo! in a move that would have valued the internet search engine at $42 billion.
The offer was rejected as too low. Microsoft returned with a raised offer of $33 a share - or $5 billion more - and that too was rejected, despite representing a 72 per cent premium to Yahoo!'s share price.
Last week, Yahoo! rejected another offer from Microsoft and Icahn.
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