Report: Facebook poised to file IPO

Stock sale could value company at $100 billion

- By Jon Swartz USA TODAY

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook may finally be ready to go public.

The social-networking behemoth is planning as early as this week to file for an initial public offering valuing the company at up to $100 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources.

Morgan Stanley is expected to be lead underwrite­r with Goldman Sachs also likely to play a major role, the sources said. USA TODAY could not independen­tly corroborat­e the story. The timing of such a filing could put Facebook on track to start trading stock as early as this spring.

The 8-year-old Facebook is ex- pected to raise $10 billion, with a valuation of between $75 billion and $100 billion, although such informatio­n would not be in the initial registrati­on document. By either measure, it would make Facebook among the largest IPOS ever. (Visa set a record in 2008, when it raised $17.9 billion.)

“It makes Facebook the largest Internet IPO ever,” says Kathleen Smith, a principal at IPO investment advisory firm Renaissanc­e Capital.

Facebook declined to comment. “We’re not going to participat­e in Ipo-related speculatio­n,” Facebook spokesman Larry Yu said Friday.

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs also declined to comment.

Facebook’s IPO has been eagerly anticipate­d as a defining moment for the latest Web investing boom. The social-networking company, with more than 800 million members and strong revenue of about $4.3 billion last year, has redefined the way millions of people worldwide interact and share informatio­n on the Internet.

A boffo offering should invigorate the IPO market after a placid showing in 2011, Smith says. “We are expecting 2012 to be a year of recovery for the IPO market (because of) Facebook, Smith says, noting 217 companies are waiting to go public.

If Facebook lands a valuation of $100 million, it would rank in market cap among U.S. companies just below Mcdonald’s, which is 25th at $101.5 billion, according to Howard Silverblat­t at Standard & Poor’s.

Though Linkedin and Groupon both had successful offerings last year, their shares are now well below their first-day trading prices. Linkedin is more than 24% below its May debut, and Groupon is almost 18% below its first stock trades in November.

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