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Microsoft buying LinkedIn for $26.2B

NEW YORK — In a surprise move, Microsoft said Monday that it is buying LinkedIn for about $26.2billion, a deal that could bring subtle but significant changes for the professional network’s morethan 430 million members.

LinkedIn will remain an independent unit of Microsoft. It will keep its name, and current CEO JeffWeiner will stay on and report directly to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. LinkedIn lets membersnetwork with other professionals, upload their resumes, catch up on career advice and search forjobs.

For Microsoft, the deal presents an opportunity to cement itself as the tech company for the world’sprofessionals, helping them find jobs, learn new skills and do their work. Microsoft will also look forways to combine Microsoft’s software for workers with the information stored in LinkedIn’s onlineprofessional network.

For instance, Nadella told The Associated Press that Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana could mineLinkedIn for helpful data. “Cortana can wake up before you go into a meeting and inform youabout all the people you are meeting for the first time and the connections you have with them,”he said.

Similarly, he said, LinkedIn’s “news feed” — which provides articles and updates from your contactson the network — could highlight information that’s relevant to a project you might be working onusing Microsoft’s Office 365 software. LinkedIn users might see changes in the first year after thedeal is closed, Nadella said.

Microsoft may also integrate its business software with LinkedIn’s growing business of providingsales professionals with contacts and information to help make sales to large companies.

LinkedIn, based in Mountain View, California, is by far Microsoft’s largest acquisition — much largerthan Skype, which the company bought for $8.5 billion in 2011. Microsoft Corp., which is inRedmond, Washington, is paying $196 for each share of LinkedIn Corp., a 50 percent premiumover the stock’s closing price of $131.08 on Friday. The deal is expected to close this year.

LinkedIn’s business and share price have been rocky recently. In February, it gave a surpriseforecast for slower growth that led to a big sell-off, wiping out nearly $11 billion in market value.The company said at the time that its adjusted earnings would be 55 cents a share on revenue ofroughly $820 million. Its stock climbed higher after it reported better than expected results for thefirst quarter, though not enough to recover from the earlier plunge.

In an email to LinkedIn employees posted online , Weiner asked them to give themselves “sometime to process the news.”

“You might feel a sense of excitement, fear, sadness, or some combination of all of thoseemotions. Every member of the exec team has experienced the same, but we’ve had months toprocess,” he wrote. “Regardless of the ups and downs, we’ve come out the other side knowingbeyond a shadow of a doubt, this is the best thing for our company.”

Microsoft has a mixed track record with acquisitions, having written off more than $10 billion itpoured into companies such as cellphone maker Nokia and an online ad firm called aQuantive.Nadella expressed confidence that this one will succeed, citing the company’s more successfultakeovers of Skype and Minecraft.

LinkedIn shares gained +61.13 or 46.64% to close at $192.21. Microsoft fell $1.34, or 2.6 percent,to close at $50.14.

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