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Microsoft makes its Facebook shares pay off, report says

Redmond reportedly sold one-fifth of its shares in Facebook right after the social network's IPO, and thus made a tidy profit.

A report suggests that Microsoft offloaded around 20 percent of its shares in Facebook just after the social network went public. In doing so, the software giant received $249 million back -- close to $10 million more than it first invested.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company invested $240 million in Facebook in 2007 for a 1.6 percent stake in the social network. Back then it wasn't a huge amount, but was a major boost for Facebook to have a dominant player on its roster. Soon after, Bing Search and Bing Maps were brought to the social network to display search results and other imagery for pages and businesses. 

An Associated Press report said Microsoft sold 6.6 million shares -- roughly 20 percent -- when the social network went public in May. Despite Nasdaq's embarrassing and ill-timed hiccup, Microsoft sold its shares at the IPO price, a world away from Facebook's current trading price.

Screenshot 2012-08-20 at 11.41.13
Despite the occasional bump, Facebook is down by half since its IPO in May.

Add up the numbers -- number of shares multiplied by the share price -- more than $249 million in total. Maybe Microsoft foresaw the steep decline in Facebook shares and sold early, or maybe it's just good business sense. Either way, Microsoft still has a lot more Facebook stock on its hands.

Facebook is trading at $19 a share, down from $38 at its initial public offering in June. The social network has lost half its share value in one three-month period.

Questions were left with Microsoft, which did not respond at the time of writing. 

This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Microsoft offloads 20 percent of its Facebook shares: report."