Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer will be hoping to avoid the kind of reception he received in Budapest, as he continues a whirlwind tour of central and eastern Europe. Ballmer was addressing Hungarian students on Monday when one rose from his lecture theatre chair and pelted him with eggs. “It’s the first time I’ve had an egg thrown at me since 1966,” Ballmer said. Given Microsoft’s faltering pursuit of Yahoo, there would be a line here about having egg on one’s face – except the student, protesting an IT training contract Hungary signed with MS, missed.
Ballmer was in the Ukraine yesterday and was opening a new internet applications R&D center during a brief three-hour stay in Herzliya, Israel, today before heading to Slovakia. He will visit the Czech Republic on Thursday, Russia on Friday. Microsoft says growth in central and eastern Europe is outstripping even China – Ballmer said it’s “one of the world’s most exciting areas for investment”; the company has 2,000 staff there.
But the region is a good 10 hours ahead of Sunnyvale Standard Time and, in Herzliya this morning, Ballmer went on record with the gist of Sunday’s statement (via Reuters): “We are not bidding to buy Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO). Yet, we are trying to have discussions about deals with Yahoo that might create value but not a whole acquisition of the company.”