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Adobe Shares Plunge As Microsoft Talk Fizzles

Adobe shares were off almost 6% in mid-afternoon trading Friday upon word that the company's supposed merger talks with Microsoft were, for now at least, nothing more than industry speculation.

Adobe shares were down 5.96% from the opening, to $26.98. The company's shares spiked as much as 16%, to $30, in Thursday trading as rumors swirled that Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen had met with Steve Ballmer, his counterpart at Microsoft, to engage in buyout talks.

The chatter was sparked by a New York Times report that Narayen and Ballmer had gotten together recently to discuss, among other things, how the two companies might work together to counter Apple's growing influence over the mobile device market.

Ballmer did little to clarify things when, speaking at a business conference in Madrid, he said, "If you are going to do something, you say nothing." Adobe issued a statement that said in part that, "the CEOs of the two companies do meet from time to time. However, we do not publicly comment on the timing or topics of their private meetings."

Both Adobe and Microsoft have good reason to be concerned about Apple's efforts in the phone market. The iPhone has trounced Microsoft's mobile offerings to date—something Microsoft hopes to counter next week with the launch of Windows Phone 7—and Apple has raised Adobe's ire by barring Flash from the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.

But in a Friday report, Dow Jones said people familiar with the talks between the two CEOs dismissed them as a "routine chat" between executives.