Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said on Wednesday he is willing to walk away from a merger with Internet portal Yahoo if shareholders don't accept his company's $44.6 billion offer.

We are offering a lot of money, Ballmer said at a conference in Milan, according to Bloomberg. If Yahoo's shareholders like it, that's great. We are prepared to go forward without a merger.

Yahoo reported its first quarterly profit increase in two years yesterday, but Ballmer had said prior to the results that no matter how good the report, Microsoft would not raise its bid.

If the deal is not completed on friendly terms, Microsoft has indicated it will wage a proxy battle to change the leadership of Yahoo's board of directors.

Yahoo said it earned $542.2 million, or 37 cents per share, for the first quarter, up from $142.2 million or 10 cents per share a year earlier. Its revenue also grew 9 percent to $1.82 billion compared to a year ago.

Shares of Microsoft rose $1.08, or 3.6 percent to $31.33 in late afternoon trading. Shares of Yahoo fell 52 cents, or 1.82 percent to $28.02.