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Distractions may delay upcoming Facebook IPO

Less than two weeks before the potential launch of Facebook’s initial public offering roadshow, a string of acquisitions and other business distractions are threatening to delay the sale, say people familiar with the matter.

Facebook management has been eyeing a May offering, with a roadshow launch as early as May 7 and the start of trading late the week of the 14th, people with knowledge of the deal have said. But in recent weeks, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been more focused on running the business and making acquisitions than on preparing for the share sale, according to one of these people, making it hard for him and other managers to focus wholeheartedly on the IPO preparations.

As a result of that, Facebook is more likely to launch its roadshow on May 14, or even as late as the very end of May, say the people familiar with the matter. That is a start date that would likely delay the initial trading until early or mid-June. That’s because the Memorial Day holiday, which is May 28, will likely mean that the stock market is less liquid, and therefore less hospitable, to a new issue like Facebook for several trading days late in May, making it a bad time to be on the road or to launch trading.

Effectively, says one person familiar with the matter, Facebook is looking at a “Plan A, B, C, and a D” for its IPO.

A Facebook spokesman declined to comment on the expected timing of the deal.

Having a CEO like Zuckerberg whose bias is to hunker down and do his job rather than fixating on potential stock prices and investors may be more an asset than a liability. However, Zuckerberg’s surprise decisions to buy Instagram for $1 billion over the course of a weekend and a $550 million patent portfolio from Microsoft have created the need for additional financial disclosures with the SEC, say lawyers and other people familiar with the matter, and answering all the Commission’s questions could take additional time.

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