Facebook denies plans to go public

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Facebook denies plans to go public

Analysts aflutter over new stock structure.

Facebook has introduced a dual-class stock structure designed to give existing shareholders more power in the company.

Establishing such a structure is normally a prelude to going public, but the social networking firm has denied any plans to do so.

"Existing shareholders wanted to maintain control over voting on certain issues to help ensure that the company can continue to focus on the long term to build a great business," said a Facebook spokesman.

"This revision to the stock structure should not be construed as a signal that the company is planning to go public. Facebook has no plans to go public at this time."

A company will sometimes establish two sets of shares before making an initial public offering (IPO), with one set holding more power and voting rights than the other. This is to ensure that the company's founders and top executives maintain control.

Facebook has created a Class B stock, which will carry 10 votes, and a ordinary Class A stock, which will just carry one vote, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Gartner analyst Jeff Mann said that, if Facebook does not plan to offer the Class A shares to the public, it could be planning to offer them to its own employees in order to give them more involvement in the company, or to enter a partnership programme as the firm did in its earlier days with Microsoft.

Mann also suggested that Facebook may want to change its shareholder structure in case it decides to launch an IPO in the future.

"These things are often multi-stage. Companies make changes well in advance of going public," he said. "They may have no plans yet to do it but, if they see a good opportunity in the future, they are now ready to pursue it."

If Facebook wanted to make a major acquisition, for example, selling its shares on the public equity market would be likely to provide the necessary financing.

Facebook rival Twitter said on Tuesday that it may consider the IPO route if it does not generate enough revenue next year.

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