Facebook readies $5B IPO filing

Social juggernaut to file for initial public offering to raise US$5 billion, half of analyst estimates, but sources close to deal say figure can increase as IPO launch gets closer.

Facebook is expected to raise US$5 billion in a preliminary initial public offering (IPO) prospectus to be filed on Feb. 1, as the social network prepares its public debut predicted to be scheduled for this May.

According to the International Financing Review (IFR), the US$5 billion figure was half of the estimated US$10 billion IPO reported earlier. The capital markets magazine stated in its report Tuesday that the smaller number reflected a decision to start with a conservative base before deciding whether to increase. According to IFR, sources close to the deal said this preliminary amount could eventually be raised due to investor demand.

It noted that the timing of the IPO filing appeared to set a framework for Facebook to finalize its IPO by May, pending a smooth registration process with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This scheduled tallied with earlier media reports.

The report also revealed that Facebook opted to hire five bookrunners, with Morgan Stanley in the "coveted lead left role"--which refers to where the top underwriter's name will appear on the IPO prospectus. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital and JP Morgan make up the other four, although sources said the syndicate could also grow, IFR added.

Recent trading of Facebook stock on private exchanges had pointed to a US$80 billion-plus valuation, but IFR noted that since the final pricing of Facebook's shares would not likely be settled in the coming months, what valuation the company was targeting on its IPO remained unclear.

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