Social media giant Facebook has announced it is buying instant messenger WhatsApp for $16 billion (£9.58bn).
WhatsApp, which often tops the most popular application charts, is an alternative to text messages and has more than 450 million monthly global users.
The deal comprises $4bn in cash and $12bn worth of Facebook shares. The agreement also provides for an additional $3bn in restricted stock units to be granted to WhatsApp's founders and employees and to be paid in four years. Jan Koum, a Ukrainian who went to the US aged 16 and who dropped out of college, and Stanford alumnus Brian Acton are the main founders of WhatsApp.
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Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg said he first approached Mr Koum about a deal on February 9. Mr Zuckerberg said WhatsApp will continue to operate independently and have a policy of no advertising. There were no details on how the company would make money beyond a $1 annual fee which is not charged in the first year.