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Social networking site Facebook is to make its biggest ever acquisition by buying mobile messaging service WhatsApp. Facebook believes the service will reach a billion users.
Facebook announced on Wednesday that it is to pay $12 billion (8.7 billion euros) in Facebook stock and $4 billion in cash for WhatsApp.
WhatsApp Messenger is an instant messaging subscription service for smartphones with Internet access which carries text, images, video and audio. According to the Financial Times, WhatsApp "has done to SMS on mobile phones what Skype did to international calling on landlines."
Commenting on the deal, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said: "WhatsApp is on a path to connect one billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable."
WhatsApp, based in California, was set up in 2009 by American Brian Acton and Ukrainian Jan Koum, both former employees of website Yahoo! WhatsApp claims to have more than 450 million monthly active users. In comparison, social media site Twitter had 241 million users at the end of 2014.
"Almost five years ago we started WhatsApp with a simple mission: building a cool product used globally by everybody. Nothing else mattered to us," Koum, also the company CEO, said in a blog post.
WhatsApp is to be operated independently with its own board, according to Facebook.
jm/crh (AFP, AP)