Microsoft says Yahoo would help it turn Web profit

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The acquisition of Yahoo Inc would transform Microsoft Corp’s money-losing Internet business into a profitable pillar of its business, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said on Friday.

“We have been losing money. Our plan here would be to not lose money in the future,” Ballmer said on a conference call in response to a question by a Wall Street analyst about how the $44.6 billion deal might affect margins.

On the same conference call, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith allowed that alternative bidders could emerge but said that any attempt by arch-rival Google to acquire Yahoo would face insurmountable antitrust hurdles.

“Any number of companies might take an interest. There’s one company that cannot: That’s Google itself. Given its superdominant market share, Google is clearly prevented by antitrust laws from buying Yahoo,” the chief lawyer said.

Microsoft officials quoted industry figures showing that Google holds 75 percent of the worldwide Web search audience.

Reporting by Eric Auchard; Editing by Steve Orlofsky