Facebook to buy WhatsApp in US$16bn deal

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Nic Healey can usually be found on a couch muttering about aspect ratios and 7.1 channel sound - which is helpful given that he's the home entertainment guy at CNET.

Facebook has announced that it will buy WhatsApp — its biggest rival in mobile messaging — for a cool US$16 billion in cash and stock.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
(Credit: CNET)

The announcement of the deal was made via a filing with the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).

The deal includes 183,865,778 Facebook shares, valued at US$12 billion, along with US$4 billion in cash. After the deal has been closed, Facebook will grant an additional 45,966,444 restricted stock units (RSUs) to WhatsApp founders and employees, tacking on an additional US$3 billion to the deal. The additional RSUs will vest over four years following closing.

According to Facebook, WhatsApp has 450 million monthly active users, more than 70 per cent of whom are active on a daily basis. The service is also adding 1 million new registered users per day. The application will reportedly remain independent from its new parent company, much like Instagram did.

Though largely focused on member-to-member messaging, 5-year-old WhatsApp has grown to just over one-third the size of Facebook. Its popularity with a younger demographic may well be Facebook attempting to address the perception of its audience being older, with the site apparently losing 11 million teen members since 2011.

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