Rumor: Microsoft to sell Bing to Facebook

Earlier this month, rumors hit the Internet that Facebook was trying to develop better search features for its users, including creating a dedicated search programming team headed up by a former Google team member. Now a new and rather outrageous rumor has hit the Internet that claims Microsoft might be willing to sell off its Bing search division to Facebook.

Barrons reports that an editor for the cable TV business channel CNBC said on Thursday that Microsoft was considering a sale of Bing to Facebook, in exchange for Microsoft acquiring more of Facebook's stock (Microsoft already owns a 1.6 percent share of Facebook). If such a deal is made, the story claimed it would happen after Facebook launches its public stock offering, which is likely to happen this May.

So far, neither Microsoft nor Facebook have commented on this new rumor. However, at least one financial analyst, Rick Sherlund with Nomura Equity Research, claims that if such a deal did take place it would be good for Microsoft, saying, "Investors have not been a fan of that line of business for a long time. They just don't see the rewards."

Bing recently moved past Yahoo to become the number two biggest Internet search provider in the US. Since Bing's technology is also the basis for Yahoo's search engine, that means Bing effectively controls nearly 30 percent of the search market share in the US.

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