Facebook's Zuckerberg to keep iron grip after IPO

Thu Feb 2, 2012 1:29pm EST
 
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By Alexei Oreskovic and Sarah McBride

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook unveiled plans for the biggest ever Internet IPO that could raise as much as $10 billion, but made it clear CEO Mark Zuckerberg will exercise almost complete control over the company, leaving investors with little say.

The Harvard dropout, who launched the social networking phenomenon from his dorm room, will control 56.9 percent of the voting shares in a company expected to be valued at up to $100 billion when it goes public. Facebook says it has 845 million active monthly users.

Wednesday's long-awaited filing kicks off a process that will culminate in Silicon Valley's biggest coming-out party since the heyday of the dotcom boom and bust.

In its filing Facebook says it is seeking to raise $5 billion, but that is a figure used to calculate registration fees among others and analysts estimate it could tap investors for $10 billion.

That would value the company at $100 billion, dwarfing storied tech giants such as Hewlett Packard Co, while validating the explosive growth worldwide of social media as communication and entertainment.

Zuckerberg's economic control of about 28 percent of the shares would be worth $28 billion at a $100 billion valuation, ranking him as the fourth-richest American.

The 27-year-old's ownership position means Facebook, a company dissected in 2010's Oscar-winning "The Social Network", will not need to appoint a majority of independent directors or set up board committees to oversee compensation and other matters.

The company's ownership structure and bylaws go against shareholder-friendly corporate governance practices put in place in the United States after years of investor activism.   Continued...

 
<p>Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg delivers a keynote address at the company's annual conference in San Francisco, July 23, 2008. REUTERS/Kimberly White</p>