Facebook roadshow starting May 7, public on May 18 (rumor)

Facebook is widely expected to go public this month, although there are talks of a possible delay until June. The social networking giant will go public on May 18, 2012, according to the latest rumor.

The first rumor said Facebook will go public in the third week of May: the days of 14, 15, 16, 17, or 18. A second rumor narrowed it down to just two days: May 17 or May 24, claiming the choice will come down to how smoothly the Instagram acquisition goes. A third rumor said May 17, 2012 is the likely candidate. All three warned, however, that anything can still happen, and as I've already noted, a fourth one >said everything has been pushed back to June. Now yet another rumor says May 18 is the big day.

Earlier today, a rumor suggested Facebook is still on track to have its roadshow start next week. In fact, Facebook will reportedly begin pitching its stock to investors on May 7 (the coming Monday). This means the social networking giant is about to get approval from government regulators to officially distribute its S-1 public offering prospectus to investors this week.

Facebook will go public in two weeks on Friday, after setting the final pricing for the deal the day before, according to people familiar with the matter cited by The Wall Street Journal. It's important to underline that nobody yet knows the plan as it mainly depends on two things: when exactly the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) gives the green light for Facebook's mounting stack of paperwork, and what exactly Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg feels like doing with his company.

Zuckerberg is expected to appear before potential shareholders, and will be present at key meetings to help sell the company to them. Some may find this surprising given his recent behavior (Zuckerberg skips Facebook analyst meeting (rumor) and Wall Street whines as Zuckerberg skips out on Facebook investors) but as I have said before, of course "Zuckerberg will likely play some sort of role in selling the company's shares to investors."

Zuckerberg is simply too important to Facebook's business to not participate in his company's public offering. Facebook CFO David Ebersman and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will also play key roles in the road show, and other Facebook executives will also be present.

Following the road show, there will be a sales process in which investors ask management questions. Facebook's bankers will price the offering, anywhere between $75 billion, $100 billion, or maybe even higher. Lastly it will go public on the Nasdaq market under the "FB" ticker. Only then will you be able to officially buy Facebook stock.

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