Microsoft has reportedly beaten Google and Facebook to the punch to buy online telephony giant Skype in a deal estimated to be worth around £5.2 billion.
The Wall Street journal reported last night that a deal was close to taking place. Now Kara Swisher of BoomTown at AllThingsD is claiming that an agreement has already been struck according to unnamed sources and will be announced early tomorrow.
Negotiations over the acquisition of the VoIP provider were apparently led by Microsoft head honcho Steve Ballmer and head of Corporate Strategy Charles Songhurst. If true, it would the biggest takeover for the Redmond giant in more than three decades.
It’s not clear exactly what has driven Microsoft to buy Skype, other than the obvious, of course. The Windows giant already has a cross-platform messaging service in Live Messenger.
Skype lost $7 million (around £4.27 million) last year on total revenue of $860 million (£525 million), of which $264 million (£161 million) was operating profit. While it’s by no means a poor showing for a company that relies entirely on its internet efforts, but it’s unlikely that Microsoft is expecting to recoup its investment anytime soon. It is entirely possible that the software maker wanted to get to Skype before one of its competitors.
What this means for Skype users on non-Windows platforms remains unknown. But we hardly expect Microsoft to make too many changes to a profitable business. If anything, we might even see a stronger, more integrated video conferencing system on Windows Phone 7, which could be a massive boon for business users and teenagers alike.
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