Tech giants Microsoft and Yahoo! are apparently in talks again regarding a possible partnership, it has been claimed.

Microsoft has issued a statement claiming that following the withdrawal of its proposal to acquire Yahoo! it is now exploring and pursuing its alternatives as it looks to expand its online marketing and services.

"Microsoft is considering and has raised with Yahoo! an alternative that would involve a transaction with Yahoo! but not an acquisition of all of Yahoo!," the company said.

It added that it is not proposing to make a new bid to acquire the whole firm at this time, but reserves the right to reconsider that decision depending on future discussions with its shareholders, with Yahoo! or with third parties.

In February 2008, Microsoft made an offer for Yahoo! of approximately $44.6 billion (£22.4 billion) in cash and stock, equal to $31 per share.

In a conference call at the time, Kevin Johnson of Microsoft said the combination of the firms would result in an entity that could better compete with Google in the field of search engine marketing, the BBC reports.

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