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Facebook could go public May 16, source says

Facebook has homed in on two possible dates to launch its initial public offering on the Nasdaq, according to a person familiar with the matter. Bankers and management are currently looking at a primary target date of May 16 or 17 to price the deal (with trading commencing the following day), according to this person, and trading would commence the following morning. The company would begin marketing the deal on May 7 under that scenario.

The final timing, however, will be highly dependent on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s review of Facebook’s recently announced $1 billion acquisition of Instagram. While bankers expect the commission to give the deal a go-ahead by the end of April, unforeseen comments or questions from regulators could push IPO pricing back by roughly one week.

If that were the case, the company would default to a plan B, which would aim to price the deal on May 23 or 24 and begin trading the following day.

Under either scenario, Facebook is leaning towards a 10-day period to market the deal with investors – known as a road show – which will primarily focus on domestic investors in hubs like New York, Silicon Valley, and Boston, according to this person. The company is considering meeting with prospective investors abroad in Europe, but would keep that trip brief (if it happens at all). Typically, road shows for large IPOs last around 14 days.

While prospective investors, bankers and industry experts expect demand to be significantly robust for Facebook’s offering, some of the company’s bankers have expressed worry about a shortened marketing period according to the person familiar with the timetable.

If management is not be able to accommodate meetings with some large investors, it could result in tension among some members of the company’s investor base, they warn.

Last week, Facebook chose the Nasdaq over the New York Stock Exchange to list the deal. The company has filed for a $5 billion offering, but is expected to raise around $10 billion by the time the deal is launched.

The IPO is being led by Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Barclays, Allen & Company, and a consortium of roughly 25 other banks advising on the deal.

A spokesperson from Facebook declined to comment on the company’s IPO timing.

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