Documents published by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reveal that a bidding war between Microsoft and Salesforce pushed up the price that Microsoft had to pay by $5bn, or 22 per cent.
In addition, reports over the weekend suggest that Facebook and Google were potentially interested in buying LinkedIn, although the company wasn't necessarily prepared to sell out at any price.
Microsoft eventually prevailed in the bidding war, scooping up the business social networking website for $26.2bn, a 50 per cent premium over its pre-bid stock price.
The SEC filings don't mention by name the other companies interested in acquiring LinkedIn, but Bloomberg has suggested that the third company was Facebook, while Google was also apparently interested.
"On February 16 2016 Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn's chief executive, met Satya Nadella, Microsoft's chief executive, to discuss the ongoing commercial relationship between the companies and ways to enhance it," said the SEC.
"At this meeting, Weiner and Nadella discussed ways in which the two companies could work together more closely and, in the context of that discussion, among other things, the concept of a business combination was raised."
Weiner suggested that LinkedIn was not for sale, but Nadella took an acquisition proposal to the Microsoft board for approval.
"On March 16 2016 Nadella spoke to Weiner, at which time Nadella confirmed that Microsoft was interested in pursuing an acquisition of LinkedIn and that Microsoft had begun work on the project," the filing continued.
The LinkedIn board preferred Microsoft's offer over Salesforce's on the ground of "certainty of value" by playing off the various interested parties throughout May and early June until a deal was formally agreed.
However, Weiner was able to force Microsoft to up its initial offer, as well as raising the cash element.
Indeed, LinkedIn persuaded Microsoft to raise its offer even after going into exclusive talks with Microsoft, which would have obliged it to pay a $725m break-up fee.
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