Historic Facebook debut falls short of expectations

Fri May 18, 2012 5:28pm EDT
 
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By Alexei Oreskovic

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The historic initial public offering of Facebook Inc did not go as planned on Friday, as the social networking company's sky-high valuation combined with trading glitches left the stock languishing near its offering price at the market close.

Facebook shares, which opened up 11 percent, closed at $38.23 after a nail-biting last half hour of trading when the shares dipped to their $38 IPO price. Most investors had predicted a first-day pop.

More than 576 million shares changed hands, setting a trading volume record for U.S. market debuts.

The company had priced its IPO at the top end of its target range and increased the size of the offering, becoming the first U.S. company to go public with a valuation greater than $100 billion.

Facebook founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, 28, who retains voting control of the company and whose personal net worth is now about $20 billion, marked the debut of his company's shares at the company's Silicon Valley campus, symbolically ringing the opening bell for stock trading on Friday morning.

Wearing his trademark black hoodie, Zuckerberg hugged and high-fived Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, who is credited with bringing crucial business discipline to a company founded in a Harvard dorm room eight years ago.

The area outside Facebook's offices was packed with throngs of photographers, more than a dozen television trucks, and a TV news helicopter hovering overhead.

Outside of Nasdaq headquarters in New York, crowds also gathered, even as exchange officials struggled to sort out technical problems related to the huge volume of orders, which delayed the start of trading in the stock by 45 minutes and left investors guessing for more than two hours about whether their buy and sell orders had actually been executed.   Continued...

 
Recent activity lists "Mark listed FB on NASDAQ" in this image taken from Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook page on May 18, 2012. REUTERS/Staff