On Monday, Microsoft said it would pay $26.2 billion to buy LinkedIn. PHOTO: MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ/ASSOCIATED PRESSBy JAY GREENE and ANNE STEELE Updated June 13, 2016 2:35 p.m. ET83 COMMENTS
Microsoft Corp., in what is by far the biggest acquisition in the company’s history, said Monday it had reached a deal to buy LinkedIn Corp., the professional social-networking company, for $26.2 billion in cash.
Integrating Microsoft’s and LinkedIn’s offerings would broaden their reach, enhance their utility, and create market-leading services for business customers, the companies said. Microsoft will pay $196 per LinkedIn share, a 50% premium to LinkedIn’s closing price on Friday. Shares of LinkedIn, which had dropped 42% so far this year through Friday’s close, jumped 47% to $192.46. Microsoft shares fell 2.9%.
Microsoft said LinkedIn will “retain its distinct brand, culture and independence,” with Chief Executive Jeff Weiner remaining at the helm, reporting to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. The deal, the largest acquisition ever for Microsoft, is expected to close within the year.
The companies see cost savings of about $150 million a year by 2018. LinkedIn would be required to pay a $725 million breakup fee if it backs out of the deal.
Microsoft believes the acquisition will expand the market for both LinkedIn and Microsoft’s Office products. The software giant has made a significant push in the past few years to make its products more connected and wants to use data to make them more intelligent. LinkedIn’s vast network offers data that could help.
Microsoft may find ways to generate revenue from LinkedIn’s professional network that LinkedIn couldn’t independently, said Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analyst Brad Reback.
Connecting LinkedIn directly to Office could help attendees of meetings learn more about one another directly from invitations in their calendars. Sales representatives could pick up useful tidbits of background on potential customers from LinkedIn data.