Facebook has set a range for its initial public offering of $28 to $35 per share. At that price level, the social network giant would raise just over $10 billion.
Those lofty numbers would put Facebook on the path to becoming the most valuable Internet company in the United States.
The price range is surprisingly lower than what many industry analysts had expected. The consensus was closer to $40 per share.
Greencrest Capital Management analyst Max Wolf told MSNBC that Facebook most likely subdued the price range for the storied IPO due to recently passive mood surrounding the markets.
"It feels to me that as market sentiment gets less bright, people are getting more nervous," said Wolf.
"It won't price at $35 - it will be higher," Michael Pachter, Internet analyst for Wedbush Securities, told MarketWatch.
Pachter said the company's shares went for as high as $42 to $44 per share in private-market sales, making it highly unlikely that Facebook would price its actual offering anywhere near the low end of the range indicated in Thursday's filing.
"I've never seen an IPO where there was so much activity in the private markets before," said Pachter. "The idea that private shares were trading at $42 to $44 could go out at $28 in public - I don't know how the underwriters can put out a number like that."
The amount of shares Facebook anticipates to offer is a whopping 337.42 million. The company will sell 180 million shares as part of the offering, and another 157.4 million shares will be sold by insiders, including 30.2 million sold by CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg will not receive any proceeds from these shares; instead a "substantial majority" of those proceeds will be used to satisfy taxes incurred through past share allocations and purchases.
Facebook is in the midst of finalizing its prospectus with regulators and may kick-off its roadshow, its unique opportunity to pitch the company to private investors, as early as Monday. Stops over some eight or nine days are said to include New York, Boston, San Francisco, Baltimore, Chicago and possibly Los Angeles.
Lead underwriters for the deal are Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.
Shares will trade on the Nasdaq under the symbol "FB." Facebook could price shares May 17 and start trading as soon as May 18.
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