Microsoft reveals plan to acquire Skype

Software group Microsoft has confirmed rumours that it is to acquire Skype, an internet communications company, for $8.5bn (£5.2bn) in cash from an investor group led by Silver Lake.

Other members of the investor group include eBay International, CPP Investment Board, Joltid in partnership with Europlay Capital Advisors and Andreessen Horowitz.

Founded in 2003, Skype was acquired by eBay in September 2005 and then acquired by an investment group led by Silver Lake in November 2009. Based in Luxembourg, Skype communications software can be downloaded onto computers, mobile phones and other devices for free, allowing them to communicate at little or no cost.

Now, Skype will become a new business division within Microsoft, and Tony Bates, chief executive officer at Skype, will assume the title of president of the Microsoft Skype division, reporting directly to Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer at Microsoft.

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. The parties hope to obtain all required regulatory clearances during the course of this calendar year. The agreement has been approved by the boards of directors of both Microsoft and Skype.