Software giant Microsoft has launched a fresh attempt to tie-up with internet player Yahoo! but is stopping short of a renewed takeover bid.
Microsoft confirmed it had put forward a proposal involving part of Yahoo! as an alternative to a takeover after talks collapsed this month when the two could not agree a price.
It is thought Microsoft is hoping to strike a deal to merge the firms’ online internet search engines to take on Google.
But Microsoft said it had not ruled out a bid for Yahoo! It said: "Microsoft is considering and has raised with Yahoo! an alternative that would involve a transaction with Yahoo! but not an acquisition.
"Microsoft is not proposing a new bid to acquire Yahoo! at this time, but reserves the right to reconsider that depending on developments and discussions that may take place with Yahoo! or with shareholders of Yahoo! or Microsoft or third parties."
Microsoft walked away from takeover talks after Yahoo!’s board demanded at least $53 billion (£27.1 billion), far higher than the $47.5 billion (£24.3 billion) Microsoft was willing to pay.
Microsoft had been taking an aggressive stance with its unsolicited approach, threatening to take its offer to shareholders.
Yahoo! said its board was exploring several "value maximising" alternatives, adding it remains open to "pursuing any transaction which is in the best interest of our stockholders".
Yahoo! is facing pressure from shareholders to reopen negotiations with Microsoft, with activist investor Carl Icahn threatening to replace the California-based company’s board unless a deal can be worked out before the group’s annual meeting on July 3.
Reports suggest Microsoft’s latest talks could be aimed at providing an alternative to a search advertising partnership Yahoo! has been exploring with Google to remain independent.
The rivals have been considering an alliance after completing a test that allowed Google to use its technology to sell ads with Yahoo’s search results. But a deal would raise competition concerns, with the two companies controlling more than 80 per cent of the US search advertising market.