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Thursday, August 05, 2004
Gates interested in buying Nintendo

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has told a German financial magazine that he remains interested in buying Nintendo, stating that "if Hiroshi Yamauchi phones me, I will pick up at once."

Gates told WirtschaftsWoche magazine that he would immediately make an offer for the company if Yamauchi, who remains the largest shareholder in the firm despite retiring from his position as president over two years ago, indicated willingness to sell.

However, his comments seem to be largely in the realms of wishful thinking, as Yamauchi retains a keen interest in the running of the company, which has been in his family for over a century, and is highly unlikely to consider a sale to the American software giant.

Indeed, Yamauchi rebuffed an offer from Microsoft only a few years ago, just after the firm decided to enter the console market with the Xbox. The final decision to develop its own console operation is believed to have been taken only after attempts to buy both Nintendo and Sega failed.

The fact that Gates is still keen on acquiring Nintendo can be seen as a statement of his respect for the Japanese company, which remains the most profitable business in the games industry, but is unlikely to lead to any business deal - with the two companies, whose US headquarters are only a stones throw away from each other in Redmond, Washington, set to continue battling for second place in the current generation of console hardware.

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