Facebook resists wacky IPO proposals

Social networking site wants to play it straight.

By Jonathan Berr Jan 13, 2012 11:39AM
Maciej Frolow/Brand X/Getty ImagesFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is resisting proposals from investment bankers who are "developing and pitching unconventional strategies for the company to go public," CNBC.com reported. Zuckerberg, the report notes, prefers a more conventional approach.

The fact that Wall Street is pitching these ideas underscores the lengths that investment bankers are willing to go through to get a piece of what is expected to be one of the biggest if not the biggest, initial public offerings in history.

Facebook's valuation now stands at $82.25 billion, according to SocialBeat. That means the the lucky bank or banks could make millions in fees at a time when investment banks are hurting for business. JPMorgan Chase (JPM), for instance, on Friday reported worse-than-expected fourth quarter results mostly because investment banking fees declined 39% to 1.1 billion.

For Facebook, or any other company for that matter, going public will not be easy. "Last year was one of the worst for IPOs on record," according to a recent Financial Times report. "Bankers warn 2012 may also disappoint."

Facebook, to its credit, is leery about proposals to leverage its 800 million users and use the social network as a special retail market for the IPO. People who are unable to participate in the IPO or don't get shares at the price they think they deserve could keep Facebook tied up in legal fights for years. That's what happened in the IPOs for Boston Beer (SAM) and Vonage (VG), as CNBC noted. The social network, though, hasn't given up on the idea.

"While Facebook is leaning towards a more traditional approach to going public, it is still considering ideas it has solicited from bankers that would incorporate some type of unique component as part of going public," according to CNBC.

Bankers are so desperate to underwrite the deal that they would sell the shares via Facebook if that's what the social network wanted them to do. But Zuckerberg should keep the IPO simple. Unusual stock sales will create more trouble than they are worth.

Jonathan Berr is a freelance business write who probably couldn't afford the Facebook IPO.
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