CBS Corp. has acquired Last.fm for $280 million in cash.

The deal, unveiled today, should significantly enhance the broadcast giant's online, mobile and social networking footprint, and enable it to explore synergies between the CBS Radio division and the Last.fm's music discovery network.

Founded in 2002, London-based Last.fm combines music-focused blog entries with a user-generated-content Internet radio service. The company says it has more than 20 million registered users and tracks over 500 million song plays per month. It boasts metadata on more than 65 million tracks from 10 million artists.

Following the transaction, Last.fm founders Felix Miller, Martin Stiksel and Richard Jones will continue to independently run the online network and its current team of about 50 staff.

A Last.fm spokesman declined to comment on the company's ownership structure prior to today's announcement.

"Last.fm is one of the most well established, fastest growing online community networks out there," said Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corporation, in a statement issued today. "They have a great management team that understands how to build an engaged and passionate community where users learn, discover and share music globally. Their demographics also play perfectly to CBS's goal to attract younger viewers and listeners across our businesses."

Moonves notes that Last.fm "adds a terrific interactive extension to all of our properties and also is a huge step in CBS Corporation's overall strategy of expanding our reach online to transition from a content company into an audience company."

Miller added, "Last.fm and CBS share a vision of intelligent, personalized media and smarter social networking. This partnership will help us push these innovations even further and provide huge benefits to our community. Together, Last.fm and CBS will offer a new way for people to consume media."

Speculation on the sale, leaked in the LA Times, follows-on from rumours which emerged last month that MTV-parent Viacom was pursuing the music-based social network, with bids estimated around the $450 million region.

Last.FM has been gathering pace with the music industry recently, scoring high-profile content deals with Warner Music Group, IODA and others, and unveiling earlier this month a new music video on demand offering.

The reported sale price is well-below the sums paid for YouTube, which was bought by Google for $1.65 billion, and MySpace, which was swallowed up by News Corp. for $580 million.