The Wall Street Journal is reporting that two major software rivals, Microsoft and Google, may soon battle it out for a stake in Facebook.

The social networking site, which could be valued at as high as $10 billion, has attracted strong interest from both companies say "people familiar with the matter".

Microsoft, who has apparently considered trying to buy the company outright, seems to be further forward in negotiations as they are currently "in talks" to buy a minority stake in the company.

The stake they are looking at is said to be 5% at a cost of around $300 million to $500 million.

The move is said to be part of "catch-up" programme of action from Microsoft in the face of Google ever-widening the lead in the fast-growing internet-advertising business.