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Microsoft takes $6.2-billion writedown on online ad company aQuantive

Microsoft logos hang over their booth on the opening day of the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in this file photo taken January 10, 2012.

RICK WILKING/REUTERS

Microsoft Corp. ratcheted back growth expectations for its Internet and search engine unit on Monday as it took a $6.2-billion (U.S.) writedown on the value of an online advertising company it bought five years ago.

The charge will likely wipe out any profit for the company's fiscal fourth quarter, the results of which are expected later this month.

Microsoft bought Internet advertising company aQuantive in 2007 in an attempt to catch rival Google Inc. in the race for revenue from search-related advertising.

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The $6.3-billion deal was Microsoft's biggest at the time, but it never proved a success. As a result of its annual assessment of goodwill – the amount paid for a company above its net assets – Microsoft said it would take a non-cash charge of $6.2-billion, effectively indicating that the aQuantive acquisition is now worthless.

"The acquisition did not accelerate growth to the degree anticipated, contributing to the writedown," Microsoft said in a statement.

In addition to the writedown, Microsoft said that its expectations for future growth and profitability at its online services unit, which includes the Bing search engine and MSN Internet portal, are "lower than previous estimates."

The company did not immediately clarify what those previous estimates were, as it does not publish financial forecasts.

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