Microsoft has beaten off competition from Google to pay $240 million for a 1.6 per cent stake in Facebook that values the popular social networking site at $15 billion. Microsoft will also sell internet ads for Facebook outside the United States as part of the deal that took several weeks of negotiating. Microsoft already provides banner advertising and links on the US site.
Mark Zuckerberg, 23, founder of Facebook, has indicated he would like to hold off on an initial public offering for at least two more years. Facebook hopes to become an advertising magnet by substantially increasing its current audience of nearly 50 million active users.