On Again? Microsoft Says Open to Yahoo! Deal Once Again

It’s the “Never-Ending Story” of telecom: Will Microsoft Corp.(MSFT) buy Yahoo! Inc.(YHOO) – or parts of it – or not?

If Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has his way, the answer will be yes – which marks a big change from his earlier claims that he had washed his hands of Yahoo! after last year’s hullabaloo.

Ballmer told BusinessWeek this week that he has spoken with Yahoo!’s new CEO, Carol Bartz.

“There is a fairly compelling set of economics that underpin a search partnership,” Ballmer said to BusinessWeek. “When [Bartz] is ready, we will have a discussion.”

The sentiment is a major turnaround from Ballmer’s earlier declarations that he was done pursuing a Yahoo! acquisition or partnership. Yahoo! in 2008 toyed with Microsoft over a potential deal, to the point that Microsoft eventually said, “Enough,” and ended negotiations.

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