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Microsoft to buy Skype for $8 billion

Microsoft is set to announce that it will buy VoIP specialist Skype for a figure said to be in the region of eight billion dollars.

Rumours of a courtship between Skype and various suitors have been bandied about in recent days as the Luxembourg-based outfit was heading for an initial public offering this summer. Both Google and Facebook cropped up as possible buyers but it seems Microsoft has pipped them all to post with a bid which could be as much as $8.5 billion.

Reports of a possible deal between Microsoft and Skype surfaced on Sunday at GigaOM, to be given more weight over night when the the Wall Street Journal claimed moves were afoot. All Things Digital claims it's a done deal.

The reported $8.5 billion Microsoft will fork out for the company is a big hike from the $2.75 valuation put on Skype in 2009 when eBay sold 65 per cent of its stake in the company to investors

eBay paid $2.6 billion in cash and stock for it in 2005 so whichever way you look at it Microsoft has paid a lot of money for a company that doesn't make a profit.

Skype has over 660 million users of its free service while only 8.8 million are paying customers. Microsoft will pay close to $1,000 per paying customer, and it won't be making that back any time soon. When you add in the fact that many Skype users were happy to use the service simply because it wasn't run by the likes of Google or - heaven forbid - Microsoft, the software giant will have a uphill battle on its hands to turn a buck on this deal.