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Microsoft Pays $26 Billion for LinkedIn

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Microsoft Corp. is acquiring the professional social network LinkedIn Corp. for $26.2 billion, one of the largest technology-industry deals on record, as the maker of Windows software attempts to put itself at the center of people’s business lives.

The deal is a way for Microsoft, which largely missed out on the consumer Web boom dominated by the likes of Google and Facebook Inc., to sprint ahead in social tools -– in this case, for professionals. While Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella has drawn kudos for efforts to reshape the company and reignite sales growth, the board is urging an even faster shift toward software and services delivered over the Internet.

Microsoft will pay $196 per share in an all-cash transaction, inclusive of LinkedIn’s net cash, a 49.5 percent premium to LinkedIn’s closing price Friday. LinkedIn will retain its brand, culture and independence and Jeff Weiner will remain chief executive officer of the company, Microsoft said in a statement Monday. The deal is the most expensive relative to earnings of any takeover valued at more than $5 billion this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“This is about the coming together of the leading professional cloud and the leading professional network,” Nadella said in an interview. “This is the logical next step to take. We believe we can accelerate that by making LinkedIn the social fabric for all of Office.”

The deal is the biggest ever for Microsoft as Nadella, 48, focuses on appealing to business customers with cloud-based services and productivity tools rather than regular customers. In a presentation announcing the deal, Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft outlined a vision in which a person’s LinkedIn profile resides at the middle of other pieces of their work life, connecting with Windows, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, Skype and other Microsoft products.

Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana could provide users with information pulled from LinkedIn about participants in an upcoming meeting, for example, while a LinkedIn newsfeed will serve up articles based on projects that users are working on. Other products could include a kind of consulting service that will suggest an “expert” who might be able to help with a given project.

Microsoft could build LinkedIn, the largest global professional network, into a major customer relationship management software system for salespeople, pushing into an area dominated by Salesforce.com Inc., said Anurag Rana, a senior analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence.

“LinkedIn could really become a really big competitor for Salesforce going forward,” he said.

LinkedIn shares surged 47 percent to $192.56 at 11:35 a.m. in New York, their biggest intraday advance since 2011. They had declined 42 percent this year through Friday as investors began to question the company’s long-term prospects. Microsoft fell 2.1 percent to $50.40. Twitter Inc. jumped as much as 9.1 percent amid speculation that it could be in play as well.

The $26.2 billion offer values LinkedIn at about 91 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Excluding net cash, the multiple is about 84 times Ebitda.

LinkedIn has long been valued for having the potential viral growth of a social network with the recurring revenues of a software-as-a-service business. But recently, growth has started to slow and it’s been more difficult to get people to return to the site and pay for services. The company has been rethinking its strategy, redesigning its suite of mobile applications to make the product easier to use. Combining with Microsoft would give LinkedIn a boost in members with reasons to visit, making it more useful if people are sharing updates more frequently.

Microsoft started talking with LinkedIn about a possible deal in January, Nadella said. That’s right before LinkedIn reported a lower-than-expected revenue forecast that caused its stock to fall more than 40 percent in a day. The talks got serious once Nadella mentioned his vision for the structure, telling Weiner that LinkedIn could continue to operate independently, like Facebook’s WhatsApp or Google’s YouTube, Weiner said.

“In that very first meeting, we both got excited as we were brainstorming and riffing a bit about the things we could do in combination, combining the world’s professional network and the world’s professional cloud,” Weiner said in an interview Monday.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Facebook, YouTube and TikTok Approach 5.9 Billion Users in 2020

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Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok to Hit 5.9bn Users in 2020, a 900 Million Increase YoY

The year 2020 has witnessed a surge in the number of social media users, with millions of people spending more time indoors and online amid the coronavirus outbreak.

According to data presented by BuyShares, the combined number of Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok users, as the three most popular social networks in 2020, is expected to reach over 5.9 billion by the end of 2020, a 900 million increase year-over-year.

The Number of Facebook Users Soared 430% in the Last Decade

As the biggest social network worldwide, Facebook has witnessed an impressive growth of its user base. In 2010, the popular social media platform had 431 million active users. In the third quarter of 2012, the number of active users surpassed one billion, making it the first social network ever to do so.

Statista Key Market Indicators data revealed the Facebook user base continued its immense growth in the next six years, jumping over 2 billion in 2018. Statistics indicate this figure is expected to touch 2.3 billion in 2020, a 430% jump in the last decade.

In the last quarterly earnings report, the company stated that almost 3 billion people were using at least one of its core products, including Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger, each month.

Analyzed by geography, India represents the largest Facebook market, with 290 million users as of July. The United States, Indonesia, and Brazil follow with 190 million, 140 million, and 130 million Facebook users, respectively. By the end of 2026, the number of Facebook users is expected to rise to 2.8 billion globally.

TikTok User Base Surged 1555% in Three Years

Statista data indicated the number of people using YouTube, the second most popular social network globally, doubled in the last three years. In 2017, the popular online video-sharing platform had over 1.4 billion users. In the next two years, this figure jumped to almost 2 billion.

Statistics show the number of users continued growing in the last twelve months and is forecast to hit almost 2.3bn in 2020, a 15% jump year-over-year. The increasing trend is set to continue in the following years, with the video-sharing platform overtaking Facebook’s leading position and reaching more than 3.3 billion users by 2026.

With 311 million users as of October, India is the largest YouTube market. The United States, Brazil, and Japan follow with 216.3 million, 138.2 million, and 116.6 million users, respectively.

However, Statista data revealed that TikTok witnessed the most significant growth in the number of users in the last three years. In 2017, the Chinese short-form video app had around 82 million users. Over the last three years, this number soared 1555% reaching over 1.3 billion in 2020.

The United States represents the leading TikTok market with almost $3.7 million in revenue and 6.1 million iOS and Google Play downloads in September. Turkey ranked as the second top-grossing market with an $842,000 profit and 1.5 million downloads that month. Brazil followed with 3.5 million downloads and $468,600 in revenue.

The following years are set to witness remarkable growth of the TikTok user base, with the number of users rising to 1.8 billion by 2026.

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Jack Ma Plans the Biggest IPO, the Billionaire Backed Ant Group to Raise $34 Billion

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Alibaba CEO Jack Ma gestures as he is introduced to participate in a panel discussion at the APEC CEO Summit in Manila

Ant Group Plans to Raise the Biggest IPO Money of $34.4 Billion

Ant Group backed by Jack Ma, the founder of e-commerce platform Alibaba and the richest man in China, plans to sell shares valued at $34.4 billion or £26.5 billion on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges.

The company’s advisers set the price on Monday as demand among top global investors surged.

Once the company is listed on the two exchanges, Ant Group would have raised the most money in a single IPO and exceeded the previous record of $29.4 billion set by Saudi Aramco in December 2019.

It should be noted that Ant, an online payment, is only selling around 11 percent of its total shares. Therefore, putting the market value of the Financial Technology (fintech) giant at around $313 billion, the exact valuation of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and four times bigger than Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

This was the first time such a big listing, the largest in human history. We wouldn’t have dared to think about it five years, or even three years ago,” Mr Ma said of the deal.

Mr. Ma, according to findings, owned Ant shares worth around $16 billion, taking his total net worth to about $80 billion once the company is listed.

The preliminary price consultation showed institutional investors through Shangai IPO subscribed for over 76 billion shares or more than 284 times of the initial offline offering, according to the Ant Shanghai announcement.

Ant, the fintech company that runs Alipay, the main online payment system in China, said the volume of payments performed by the company in the financial year ended June 2020 was $17.6 trillion.

Alipay now has 1.3 billion users with Chinese accounting for most of its users while the rest comes from its nine e-wallet partners.

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Pantami Moves to Tackle $2.16bn Capital Flight from Telecoms Sector

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$2.16bn Leaves Telecommunications Sector Yearly

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, has put the total capital flight from the telecommunications sector at $2.16 billion per year.

A large part of the total amount comes from those renewing and purchasing software licenses, domain subscriptions and renewals, and cybersecurity.

The minister said to stem the trend, the ministry has developed a policy to promote local content in the sector.

In his speech at the digital day celebration, Pantami said the Indigenous Content Development and Adoption, under Pillar #8 of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (2020 – 2030), would tackle the issue.

Pantami said, “As part of our efforts to promote indigenous content, we have developed a policy for promoting indigenous content in the telecom sector to complement similar efforts that focus on the information technology sector.

“This is important to stem the tide of capital flight, among other things. A report of the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria suggests that such capital flight in the telecom sector is as high as $2.16bn annually.

“A healthy digital economy requires a robust indigenous content policy to significantly reduce this.”

Pantami stated that there was an urgent need to promote and support the development of indigenous content in all sectors.

He explained that the Indigenous Content Development and Adoption pillar was addressing this for the digital economy.

This pillar aligns with Executive Orders 003 of May 2017 and 005 of February 2018, on ‘Support for Local Content Procurements by Ministries, Department and Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria,” he said.

Speaking on broadband, the minister said the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020-2025) was created to speed up the growth of broadband connectivity in Nigeria.

Pantami said, “The plan is designed to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria of a minimum 25Mbps in urban areas, and 10Mbps in rural areas, with effective coverage available to at least 90 per cent of the population by 2025.

“This will be at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data (two per cent of median income or one per cent of minimum wage).

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