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Facebook may file for IPO next week: WSJ

30 january 2012, 15:40
0
©AFP
©AFP
Facebook may file papers for an initial public offering next week that would value the social network at up to $100 billion, AFP reports citing The Wall Street Journal.

The newspaper, citing people familiar with the matter, said Facebook could file IPO papers with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as early as Wednesday but the "timing is still being discussed."

"Executives are also considering filing a few weeks later," it said.

The Journal said the Menlo Park, California-based social networking giant is looking at a valuation of $75 billion to $100 billion and is close to picking Morgan Stanley as the lead underwriter for the stock offering.

It said Goldman Sachs is also expected to "play a significant role in the deal."

The Journal quoted its sources as saying that Facebook's IPO could raise as much as $10 billion, making it one of the largest ever.

With a deal size of $10 billion, Facebook would slip into sixth place on the list of largest US IPOs between AT&T Wireless Group ($10.62 billion) and Kraft Foods ($8.68 billion), according to Renaissance Capital.

It would be the largest IPO ever by a US Internet company, eclipsing that of Google in 2004 which raised $1.9 billion and valued the Web search giant at $23 billion.

A market capitalization of $100 billion would put Facebook on a par with McDonald's ($101 billion), well ahead of Boeing ($56 billion) but behind Apple ($415 billion) and Google ($186 billion).

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has deflected IPO talk for years, saying he is focused on building the company and not on going public.

But Zuckerberg, who co-founded Facebook in his Harvard University dorm room nine years ago and has seen it grow to more than 800 million members, recently seemed to bow to the inevitability of selling stock to the public.

In an interview with Charlie Rose of PBS television, Zuckerberg said an IPO was "not something I spend a lot of time on a day-to-day basis thinking about."

But, he added, "a big part of being a technology company is getting the best engineers and designers and talented people around the world.

"And one of the ways that you can do that is you compensate people with equity or options," Zuckerberg said. "At some point we're going to make that equity worth something publicly and liquidly."

Facebook's current annual revenue, mostly from online advertising, is estimated to be around $5 billion.

Forrester Research analyst Josh Bernoff recently told AFP that a Facebook IPO would be "the biggest financial event in the tech industry for 2012."

Several other Internet companies went public in 2011.

Career-oriented social network LinkedIn was undervalued while online daily deals site Groupon and social games titan Zynga have both been trading at or below their list price.

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