Microsoft Buys LinkedIn for $26.2 Billion

News of the acquisition sent LinekdIn's share price surging this morning.

Microsoft will pay $196 a share to purchase LinkedIn, a professional social network with more than 400 million members around the world, according to terms of the deal announced by both companies.

The transaction is expected to be complete by the end of this year. Microsoft's statement said the company plans to retain Jeff Weiner as CEO of LinkedIn and added the social network will continue to operate as an independent brand. Reid Hoffman, chairman, co-founder and the controlling shareholder of LinkedIn also approved the sale, according to the statement.

"Today is a re-founding moment for LinkedIn. I see incredible opportunity for our members and customers and look forward to supporting this new and combined business," Hoffman said in a statement. "I fully support this transaction and the Board’s decision to pursue it, and will vote my shares in accordance with their recommendation on it."

LinkedIn's stock closed at $131.08 on Friday, a drastic decrease from the company's peak of almost $260 a share last fall. News of the acquisition sent the company's stock price surging 48 percent during pre-market trading this morning with shares reaching $194.30 before the market opened.