Nadella (l) and Weiner explain the rationale behind the takeover (Photo: YouTube)

Microsoft is buying LinkedIn for 26.2 billion dlrs in cash, as the US-based software and IT group continues to expand in new directions.

Linkedin, the world's largest business network with more than 400 million members, will operate as a separate company and Jeff Weiner will remain CEO.

“Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a press statement.

Microsoft has been trying to reduce its traditional dependence on software such as Windows and Microsoft Office. Since Nadella took office in 2014, the company has, in particular, sharpened its focus on cloud-based services.

The LinkedIn acquisition, which will give Microsoft direct access to a global network of business executives, is expected to close before year-end.