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Microsoft Taking Aim at Facebook?

Now that Microsoft has walked away from its unsolicited $40+ billion bid to take over Internet giant Yahoo, the company is reportedly looking at some other ways it can expand its footprint in the online world—and one of those might be a takeover of popular social networking site Facebook. Microsoft already owns a small percentage stake in Facebook that it acquired late last year for $240 million; now, according to the Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital blog, Microsoft has approached Facebook about acquiring a bigger stake in the company—perhaps all of it. If the $240 million price tag Microsoft paid for a small stake in the company is any measure, a Microsoft buyout of Facebook could be valued in the $15 billion range.

Facebook has declined to comment on the reports, but additional reports and sources within Microsoft seem to indicate there’s no significant momentum to the discussions: Microsoft was more interested in getting Facebook’s take on the idea rather than ramping up a full-bore takeover effort. To date, Facebook as resisted to temptation to sell out for a large payday, instead working rather slowing towards an initial public offering.

In the meantime, Microsoft’s outgoing founder Bill Gates, on a tour of Microsoft’s Asian customers, says that Microsoft is focussing on an “independent” strategy in the wake of the failed Yahoo deal, and that the company will grow its online strategy “organically” without major partnerships or acquisitions.