A meeting between Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Jack Ma, the CEO of Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group, which controls Yahoo in China, has led to speculation that the software giant might have resurrected its bid to acquire Yahoo.

The two executives met in China last week. However, both Microsoft and Alibaba declined to provide further details of the subjects covered in the meeting. Several Chinese news sources said the meeting may have concerned a possible Microsoft acquisition of Yahoo, including web portals Sina and Tencent.

Alibaba had posed a possible problem for Microsoft in its failed bid for Yahoo last year. The Chinese internet company feared a Microsoft takeover of Yahoo, its largest shareholder, might mean the end of its independence and had reportedly sought other investors to buy out Yahoo's stake. Such a deal would have meant Microsoft would get Yahoo without any China properties.

Yahoo holds a nearly 40 percent stake in Alibaba, which in turn controls Yahoo's operations in China. Alibaba's subsidiaries include the Alibaba.com business-to-business commerce site and Taobao, dubbed 'China's eBay'.

The meeting between Ballmer and Ma last week is the second in just a few months. Ma and other Alibaba executives met Ballmer in March during a visit to the US that also included talks on potential cooperation with firms like Yahoo, eBay and Google, said Splinder.