Before launching a road show Facebook will notify the details are clear

Wednesday, May 2nd 2012. | Internet News

facebook ownerFacebook is reportedly gearing up for an IPO road show that is supposed to start next week, but numerous details remain unknown – especially the range where the Menlo Park company expects to price its stock.

Published reports in the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg indicate the road show, a series of key meetings that Facebook’s top brass will use to try to sell major Wall Street executives on the merits of investing in the social network, will start Monday.

That would set Facebook on course to start selling stock May 18 in what is the most widely anticipated technology company initial public offering since Google in 2004.

But Scott Sweet, senior managing partner of the advisory service IPO Boutique, said those investors need a stock price range and the number of shares to be sold before the road show to help them crunch the numbers. And as of Wednesday afternoon, Facebook had yet to file that information with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

That filing could still be made Thursday or Friday, Sweet said. Still, “they can say ‘road show’ any day of the week, but without the filing, there is no road show,” he said.

Facebook, which has investors salivating because it reaches an audience of 901 million members around the world, reportedly plans to list its stock on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the ticker symbol FB.

Sam Hamadeh, chief executive officer of PrivCo LLC, a New York firm that tracks private companies, said Facebook is working under a “very tight” schedule and gave it only a 50-50 chance of starting its road show on the current schedule, which has already slipped.

Two big last-minute deals by Facebook may also be triggering a further review by the SEC, he said. Last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, to the surprise of his own board, engineered a deal worth $1 billion to purchase San Francisco’s Instagram. Facebook has revealed it paid $300 million in cash for the developer of the popular mobile photo-sharing app.

And then Facebook agreed to pay $550 million to buy 650 patents from Microsoft, which had just acquired them from AOL.

“Mark Zuckerberg has not exactly taken steps to make (the IPO) go any faster by making two massive acquisitions right before the road show,” Hamadeh said. The company and its underwriters are still hoping to get SEC clearance by no later than Friday morning to get the road show under way.

Hamadeh said his sources say Facebook’s plan A would be to go public May 18, which would avoid floating the IPO the following week when investors, attorneys and other key Wall Street staff start heading off to extended Memorial Day holidays.

Typical road shows for an IPO this large take nine to 12 days, but Facebook might have to curtail a European portion of its road show to meet the plan A deadline, he said.

But plan B would start the road shows the week of June 4, with the IPO on June 19 or 20, he said. Any further delays could push the IPO into a plan C after Labor Day to avoid the summer vacation period, he said.

“Once you hit July Fourth until Labor Day, it’s pretty much not going to happen,” he said. “But if anyone is going to try it anyway, it would be Facebook.”

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