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Microsoft to Buy LinkedIn for $26.2 Billion in Cash

Microsoft has reached a deal to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion — the largest acquisition in the tech company's history — to dive into the social-networking realm.

Under the deal, Microsoft will acquire LinkedIn for $196 per share in an all-cash transaction, about a 50 percent premium over LinkedIn's closing price Friday, inclusive of LinkedIn's net cash.

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LinkedIn, a networking site aimed at business users, has more than 400 million users worldwide. The acquisition will give Microsoft more firepower to compete against Facebook and Google.

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Jeff Weiner will remain CEO of LinkedIn, reporting to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. According to the companies, Weiner and Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn's chairman, co-founder and controlling shareholder, both fully support the transaction.

The deal, which has been approved by both companies' boards, is expected to close by the end of 2016 subject to regulatory approvals. Previously, Microsoft's biggest acquisitions have been Skype for $8.5 billion in 2011 and Nokia's mobile devices business for $7.2 billion — the latter of which has been a debacle, leading Microsoft to slash headcount in the Nokia division and write down most of the value of that deal.

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LinkedIn has about 433 million members worldwide, up 19 percent year over year, and touts 105 million monthly unique visitors.

"The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world's professionals," Nadella said in announcing the deal Monday. "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."