Facebook Insiders May Limit IPO

Networking company already has more than 1,000 shareholders and a valuation of more than $100 billion.

Facebook Inc. is already trading like a public company as insiders and wealthy investors use private marketplaces to buy and sell stock in the social-networking company ahead of its initial offering.

The shareholder base has grown to more than 1,000, compared with the 50 to 100 investors most companies have when they go public, according to an estimate by Sam Hamadeh, head of research firm PrivCo. Private purchases pushed Facebook’s valuation past $100 billion this month, possibly limiting immediate gains for IPO investors, given that Facebook may seek a $75 billion to $100 billion value.

Higher Value?

Widely traded private companies that held IPOs in 2011 traded at about 25 percent to 30 percent less than their eventual IPO price in the two months prior to going public, according to Ori Bash, a vice president at Pluris Valuation Advisors. Facebook may see a smaller gain because it has been traded more, owned by larger investors and researched more thoroughly than other private companies, Bash said. It’s also possible the shares will continue to surge, he said.

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