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Article from SFGate.

Facebook investors Accel Partners and Goldman Sachs plan to sell as much as $1.8 billion in shares of the top social network, becoming two of the biggest sellers in the planned initial public offering.

Goldman Sachs is selling 13.2 million shares, worth as much as $461.6 million at the high end of the range outlined Thursday by Menlo Park’s Facebook. Accel Partners, an early investor in Facebook, intends to sell as much as $1.3 billion of shares.

Facebook unveiled plans Thursday to raise as much as $11.8 billion in the largest-ever Internet IPO. Executives including Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and backers such as Digital Sky Technologies will sell a total of 157.4 million shares for as much as $35 apiece, according to a regulatory filing. None will unload their entire holding.

On Friday, Facebook received a buy recommendation from Wedbush Securities and a target price of $44, its first rating since announcing plans to sell shares in an initial public offering.

Facebook should benefit from its large, growing user base that will help it attract more spending by advertisers and boost revenue and earnings, Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush in Los Angeles, said Friday in a note to investors. Mobile advertising could play an especially important part of the growth in advertising, Pachter said.

“More users should drive more usage, which in turn should drive increased advertising revenue share,” wrote Pachter. “Facebook will capture an increasing percentage of spending on offline advertising, while growing share of online advertising as well, as usage continues to increase and advertisers become more comfortable with the cost-effectiveness of online advertising.”

Facebook would be valued at more than $90 billion, and executive and investor sales would yield $5.5 billion. Existing shareholders paid an average of $1.11 a share for Facebook, the filing shows.

Facebook is offering 180 million shares to raise funds for general corporate purposes.

While Goldman Sachs is one of the IPO underwriters, it failed to win the lead role after scuttling a private sale of Facebook’s stock to U.S. investors last year. Facebook said in January 2011 that it raised $1.5 billion from Goldman Sachs and Digital Sky Technologies, valuing the company at $50 billion. Goldman Sachs, affiliated funds and Digital Sky invested $500 million, while non-U.S. investors in a Goldman Sachs fund bought $1 billion of shares.

Michael DuVally, a spokesman for Goldman Sachs, declined to comment on the plans to sell Facebook shares. Richard Wong, a partner at Accel Partners, declined to comment.

Zuckerberg will offer 30.2 million of his 533.8 million shares in the sale, bringing him as much as $1.1 billion. The majority of his net proceeds will be used to pay taxes associated with exercising a stock option.

Accel, the biggest outside holder, invested $12.2 million in Facebook in 2005 and owns 11.3 percent of Facebook’s Class B shares. At the high end of the proposed IPO price range, Accel’s remaining stake would be valued at about $5.7 billion.

Digital Sky is selling 26.3 million shares to yield as much as $919 million.

Selling may be smart for holders with large stakes who haven’t had a chance to diversify their assets, said Erik Gordon, a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Other selling stockholders include Elevation Partners, Greylock Partners, Microsoft, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus and LinkedIn Chairman Reid Hoffman. The investors are selling only parts of their Facebook stakes.

Read more here.

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