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Facebook acquires mobile data plan firm Pryte

By Alexei Oreskovic

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc is acquiring Pryte, a Finnish company that aims to make it easier for mobile phone users in under-developed parts of the world to use wireless Internet apps.

Facebook did not disclose financial terms of the deal, which spokeswoman Vanessa Chan said is expected to close later this month.

Pryte's service, which has not publicly launched yet, seeks to make it easier for consumers without wireless data plans to use online services by selling short-term passes that would provide access to particular mobile apps, such as Facebook or Foursquare.

Facebook, the world's largest social network with 1.28 billion users, is primarily interested in the team behind Pryte, led by Chief Executive Markku Makelainen, Chan said.

The one-year old, Helsinki-based company has valuable experience and relationships working with wireless operators, particularly in emerging markets, she said.

The company has fewer than 30 employees, though it's not clear how many will join Facebook.

The deal marks Facebook’s latest effort to advance its mission of connecting people in under-developed parts of the world to the Internet. Facebook has partnered with wireless operators in certain countries to offer free access to its social network and the company is building drones and satellites that will beam Internet access to remote regions of the world.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has said that connecting the “next five billion people” to the Internet is one of the company’s top priorities going forward.

(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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