Microsoft just announced what has been rumored forever: a formal offer for Yahoo. Microsoft's proposal to Yahoo's board of directors represents $31 per share (a 62% premium over yesterday's closing price) or about $44.6 Billion. Steve Ballmer, CEO and big fan of developers, says, "We have great respect for Yahoo!, and together we can offer an increasingly exciting set of solutions for consumers, publishers and advertisers while becoming better positioned to compete in the online services market." Apparently, the deal was laid out in a letter sent by Ballmer to Yahoo's board just yesterday. Seriously. The letter confirms that the two giants have been discussing the topic since late 2006. It also appears to be a direct response to the Google threat as outlined in the following paragraph:

"Today, the market is increasingly dominated by one player who is consolidating its dominance through acquisition. Together, Microsoft and Yahoo! can offer a credible alternative for consumers, advertisers, and publishers."

The deal, of course, rests with the two coming to a "merger agreement" and Microsoft (and Yahoo to a limited degree) having the time to conduct the required due diligence. Microsoft is ready to begin immediate discussions and have a draft merger agreement ready for consideration. So Yahoo, ball's in your court. The world is wondering... what will you do?

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