Tech giant Microsoft is to buy professional social network LinkedIn for $26.2 billion.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the impending deal on Monday in an email to employees, while LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, who will remain in post, also sent an email to staff.

Despite the purchase, which should go through before the end of 2016, LinkedIn will maintain its "distinct brand, culture, and independence".

LinkedIn shares jumped more than 47 per cent when the markets opened, while Microsoft shares fell 4%.

"This deal brings together the world’s leading professional cloud with the world’s leading professional network," Nadella wrote.

"I have been learning about LinkedIn for some time while also reflecting on how networks can truly differentiate cloud services.

“It’s clear to me that the LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business and an impressive network of more than 433 million professionals."

Below: Nadella and Weiner discuss the deal

 

He added that LinkedIn could be integrated into Microsoft Office in the future and vice versa.

"Think about it: How people find jobs, build skills, sell, market and get work done and ultimately find success requires a connected professional world,” he said.

“It requires a vibrant network that brings together a professional’s information in LinkedIn’s public network with the information in Office 365 and Dynamics.

“This combination will make it possible for new experiences such as a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you’re trying to complete.

"As these experiences get more intelligent and delightful, the LinkedIn and Office 365 engagement will grow.

“And in turn, new opportunities will be created for monetization through individual and organization subscriptions and targeted advertising."