Microsoft Agrees To Buy LinkedIn For $26.2B

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Shares in LinkedIn are up more than 48% to $194 in premarket trading after it announced an agreement to sell itself to Microsoft for $26.2 billion, equal to $196 per share.

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner will retain his job, but report to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. The companies expect the deal to close this year.

“The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world’s professionals,” Nadella says. “Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet.”

The deal gives Microsoft the largest social media platform for people looking to network with others in and around their professions — frequently to help them find jobs. LinkedIn says it has more than 433 million members, with more than 105 million unique visiting members per month.

Nadella told employees, in a blog post, that LinkedIn “will retain its distinct brand and independence, as well as their culture which is very much aligned with ours.” Weiner will decide “what makes sense to integrate and what does not….This approach is designed to keep the LinkedIn team focused on driving results while simultaneously partnering on product integration plans with the Office 365 and Dynamics teams.”

Weiner also posted a message to his troops, urging them to “Imagine a world where we’re no longer looking up at Tech Titans such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook, and wondering what it would be like to operate at their extraordinary scale — because we’re one of them.”

LinkedIn’s had a rocky 2016, especially since early February when it told Wall Street that its revenues would grow slower than expected this year. Its shares lost nearly 14% of their value this year up through Friday.

Microsoft’s purchase price, although a 49.5% premium over last week’s close, is still far lower than the mire than the stock’s 12-month $258 peak in November.

More than 60% of LinkedIn’s revenues come from its Talent Solutions unit, especially its Recruiter product which helps those looking for employees to find promising candidates. The company also is beefing up sales of Sponsored Content.

Today’s deal contributed to a 9% lift in Twitter’s stock price. Investors hope that Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn will stir interest in the social media platform known for its brief tweeted messages. Twitter’s stock price has declined nearly 58% over the last 12 months as it struggled to attract users who are put off by its protocols, abbreviations, and symbols.

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