by Tristan Rayner in Apps on Thursday 20 February 2014

Facebook has announced to shareholders that it is to acquire the popular mobile messaging service WhatsApp, for a US$16 billion dollar purchase price (A$17.82 billion).

The price is split with $4 billion in cash, shares (around $12 billion) meaning WhatsApp shareholders and employees will ‘own’ around 7.9% of Facebook). There is an additional component of restricted shares ($3 billion – known as RSUs).

The move “accelerates Facebook’s ability to bring connectivity and utility to the world,” Facebook said in announcing the acquisition.

WhatsApp CEO and co-founder Jan Koum will also join Facebook’s Board of Directors.

WhatsApp currently employs 55 staff, giving a value of around $345M per employee. The service is expected to remain as is – independently, and the brand will not change.

WhatsApp has over 450 million people using the service every month, and 70% are active on any given day.

> Read Facebook’s announcement to shareholders here [PDF]