Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) agreed to buy LinkedIn Corp (LNKD.N) for $26.2 billion in its biggest-ever deal, combining the software giant’s fast-growing cloud services business with the world’s largest online network for professionals. The offer of $196 per share represents a premium of 49.5 percent to LinkedIn’s Friday closing price. LinkedIn’s shares were jumped 48 percent to $194.28 before the opening bell on Monday. Microsoft’s shares were down 3.3 percent.
“Today is a re-founding moment for LinkedIn,” Reid Hoffman, chairman of LinkedIn’s board, said in a statement. Jeff Weiner will remain chief executive of LinkedIn, reporting to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “I have always had a great admiration for LinkedIn,” Nadella said in a video on Microsoft’s website. “I have been talking with Reid and Jeff for a while … I have been thinking about this for a long time.” The deal is expected to close in 2016, the companies said in a joint statement. Microsoft said it would issue new debt to fund the deal. After the deal, LinkedIn will become part of Microsoft’s productivity and business processes unit.