Facebook has agreed to buy mobile messaging app WhatsApp for US$16 billion in cash and stock, the social network said Wednesday.

Facebook plans to buy the company for $12 billion in Facebook shares and $4 billion in cash. WhatsApp will continue to operate "independently" and retain its brand, Facebook said.

WhatsApp has 450 million monthly users, and 70 percent of those people access the service daily, Facebook said.

"WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.

(More to follow)

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com