November 30, 2011
The internet giant, whose initial public offering would be one of the biggest and most hotly anticipated market debuts in many years, has not so far hired bankers to market its shares but instead has been quietly making its own preparations – confident that marketing the company to investors will be less of a problem than beating away investors desperate to get in on the deal.
The flotation is expected to value the all-conquering social network at $100bn or more, with some $10bn in shares being made available to the market. At that valuation, 27-year-old Mark Zuckerberg, who founded the website in his Harvard University dorm room in 2004, will be worth $24bn on paper – more than Silicon Valley rivals Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the founders of Google.
Facebook will have to start disclosing detailed financial information to the public in the spring, even if it decides to stay a private company, because it will have more than 500 shareholders, a regulatory threshold dating back to the foundation of modern securities law. Mr Zuckerberg, who has argued repeatedly against going public too early, is believed to have come round to the view that a full stock market listing is more desirable than the alternative of a halfway house.
The accelerated timetable could reflect concern over the outlook for the market next year, particularly in the light of recent share price falls for the technology stocks which have floated this year, most notably Facebook’s rival LinkedIn and daily deals site Groupon.