Facebook raises $1.5 billion, puts value at $50 billion

Facebook said today that it has raised $1.5 billion in a two-part transaction that puts the company's value at about $50 billion.

Facebook said today that it has raised $1.5 billion in a two-part transaction that puts the company's value at about $50 billion. In a statement this afternoon, CFO David Ebersman said the investment gives the company "greater financial flexibility to explore whatever opportunities lie ahead" but, for now, the company has no immediate plans for it.

From the company's press release:

Today, Goldman Sachs completed an oversubscribed offering to its non-U.S. clients in a fund that invested $1 billion in Facebook Class A common stock. In December, Digital Sky Technologies (DST), The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., and funds managed by Goldman Sachs invested $500 million in Facebook Class A common stock at the same valuation.

In a post earlier this month, Larry Dignan suggested that hefty investments from Goldman Sachs could (and should) lead to an eventual IPO - even if it's not so obvious. Dignan wrote:

With the dough, Facebook in theory would never have to go public. It has the funding to hire, build data centers and compete with Google. However, we’ve seen this movie before. Google followed a similar path and there was so much transparency and scrutiny that the company had to go public. When your privately traded shares are as liquid and popular as publicly traded ones it’s about time to launch an IPO.

The company said it had expected to pass 500 shareholders at some point this year and, therefore, expects to start filing public financial reports no later than April 30, 2012. Does that mean an IPO? Not necessarily. There is a 500-shareholder rule in place as part of the Securities Exchange Act, which means that Facebook would be required to disclose some financial information. If that's the case, why not just go public?

The company also noted that DST and Goldman Sachs approached Facebook about investing. The company said it saw the opportunity to bolster its cash reserves and "increase its financial flexibility with limited dilution to existing shareholders."

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