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Microsoft CEO candidate may consider selling Xbox, killing Bing - Report

If Stephen Elop gets the job to replace Steve Ballmer, he may sell or close businesses that are not critical to company's performance, report says.

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If it is former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop who replaces Steve Ballmer as Microsoft CEO, he may consider selling the Xbox business and killing Google competitor Bing, according to a new report from business publication Bloomberg.

People familiar with the matter told the site that Elop, should he get the job, would be ready to sell or close major Microsoft business units if he determines they are not critical to the company's strategic outlook.

Elop joined Microsoft when the company purchased the handset maker's mobile business for $7.2 billion in September. He is on the shortlist of potential successors to replace Ballmer, according to reports.

Microsoft shares reached their highest price since the early 2000s earlier this week, after Nomura Holdings analyst Rick Sherlund said selling Bing and Xbox could boost earnings by 40 percent in fiscal 2015.

"Microsoft is trying to do too much, and these assets add no clear value to the overall business," Sherlund said. He also said that Ford CEO Alan Mulally, reportedly the frontrunner to replace Ballmer, is the most likely candidate for the job.

No potential buyers for the Xbox business were named in the Bloomberg report. Microsoft's Xbox unit has been healthy of late, posting positive figures for the latest quarter. The Xbox One launches two weeks from today on November 22.

In August, Ballmer said he would retire within the space of 12 months, but not before his successor was named. Reuters said this week that the process could take a "few more months," though a past report indicated Microsoft plans to complete the process before the end of the year.

The Bloomberg report also claims that if Elop becomes Microsoft CEO, he would break from years of tradition and focus Microsoft's efforts on bringing Office software like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to a variety of smartphones and tablets, including devices made by Apple and Google.

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