Facebook has agreed to buy the mobile messaging company WhatsApp for $16bn (£9.6bn), the social network has announced.

The company said in a statement that the acquisition would be made with $4bn (£2.4bn) in cash and a further $12 billion (£7.2bn) in Facebook shares.

WhatsApp will “continue to operate independently and retain its brand” despite the acquisition.

“WhatsApp is on a path to connect one billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.

“I’ve known (WhatsApp CEO) Jan (Koum) for a long time and I’m excited to partner with him and his team to make the world more open and connected.”

WhatsApp is a real-time mobile messaging service with more than 450 million monthly users. The app has more than one million new registered users each day.

“WhatsApp’s extremely high user engagement and rapid growth are driven by the simple, powerful and instantaneous messaging capabilities we provide,” Mr Koum said.

“We’re excited and honoured to partner with Mark and Facebook as we continue to bring our product to more people around the world.”

The purchase will see Mr Koum join Facebook’s board of directors.

BlackBerry shares have shot higher following the news as Investors are betting the deal will spell a higher valuation for BBM.

Updated with Official Press Release

Facebook today announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire WhatsApp, a rapidly growing cross-platform mobile messaging company, for a total of approximately $16 billion, including $4 billion in cash and approximately $12 billion worth of Facebook shares. The agreement also provides for an additional $3 billion in restricted stock units to be granted to WhatsApp’s founders and employees that will vest over four years subsequent to closing.

  • Acquisition accelerates Facebook’s ability to bring connectivity and utility to the world
  • Leading mobile messaging company will continue to operate independently and retain its brand
  • WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum to join Facebook Board of Directors

WhatsApp has built a leading and rapidly growing real-time mobile messaging service, with:

  • Over 450 million people using the service each month;
  • 70% of those people active on a given day;
  • Messaging volume approaching the entire global telecom SMS volume; and
  • Continued strong growth, currently adding more than 1 million new registered users per day.

The acquisition supports Facebook and WhatsApp’s shared mission to bring more connectivity and utility to the world by delivering core internet services efficiently and affordably. The combination will help accelerate growth and user engagement across both companies.

“WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO. “I’ve known Jan for a long time and I’m excited to partner with him and his team to make the world more open and connected.”

Jan Koum, WhatsApp co-founder and CEO, said, “WhatsApp’s extremely high user engagement and rapid growth are driven by the simple, powerful and instantaneous messaging capabilities we provide. We’re excited and honored to partner with Mark and Facebook as we continue to bring our product to more people around the world.”

Facebook fosters an environment where independent-minded entrepreneurs can build companies, set their own direction and focus on growth while also benefiting from Facebook’s expertise, resources and scale. This approach is working well with Instagram, and WhatsApp will operate in this manner. WhatsApp’s brand will be maintained; its headquarters will remain in Mountain View, CA; Jan Koum will join Facebook’s Board of Directors; and WhatsApp’s core messaging product and Facebook’s existing Messenger app will continue to operate as standalone applications.

Upon closing of the deal, all outstanding shares of WhatsApp capital stock and options to purchase WhatsApp capital stock will be cancelled in exchange for $4 billion in cash and 183,865,778 shares of Facebook Class A common stock (worth $12 billion based on the average closing price of the six trading days preceding February 18, 2014 of $65.2650 per share). In addition, upon closing, Facebook will grant 45,966,444 restricted stock units to WhatsApp employees (worth $3 billion based on the average closing price of the six trading days preceding February 18, 2014 of $65.2650 per share). As of February 17, 2014, Facebook had 2,551,654,996 Class A and B shares outstanding plus approximately 139 million dilutive securities primarily consisting of unvested RSUs. The Class A common stock and RSUs issued to WhatsApp shareholders and employees upon closing will represent 7.9% of Facebook shares based on current shares and RSUs outstanding.

In the event of termination of the Merger Agreement under certain circumstances principally related to a failure to obtain required regulatory approvals, the Merger Agreement provides for Facebook to pay WhatsApp a fee of $1 billion in cash and to issue to WhatsApp a number of shares of Facebook’s Class A common stock equal to $1 billion based on the average closing price of the ten trading days preceding such termination date.

Facebook was advised by Allen & Company LLC and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP; and WhatsApp was advised by Morgan Stanley and Fenwick & West, LLP.

Webcast and Conference Call Information

Facebook will host a 30-minute conference call to discuss the acquisition at 3:00 pm PT / 6:00pm ET today. The dial-in number for the call is (866) 751-3284 (toll free) and (973) 935-8772 (international), conference ID: 2907041. The live webcast of the call can be accessed at the Facebook Investor Relations website at investor.fb.com. Facebook uses the website http://investor.fb.com as a means of disclosing material non-public information and for complying with its disclosure obligations under Regulation FD.

Following the call, a replay will be available at the same website. A telephonic replay will be available for one week following the conference call at (855) 859-2056 or (404) 537-3406, conference ID 2907041.

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About The Author
Rapid John
Rapid John has a quarter of a century in programming for Government and Corporate bodies, John is proficient in most major programming languages.  He is constantly running around showing us his latest bit of code for Cascades and repeatedly telling us how fantastic it is. (John we know). He is responsible for carrying out presentations to corporate and business customers and is a BlackBerry Developer Elite.