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Facebook plans to raise IPO price range

By Brian Womack,

Facebook plans to raise the price range for its initial public offering to $34 to $38 a share, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The new range, above the previous range of $28 to $35 a share, may be announced in a regulatory filing as soon as Tuesday, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the plans haven’t been made public.

Facebook, already planning the largest-ever Internet-company IPO, would raise as much as $12.8 billion and seek a valuation of as high as $104.2 billion, based on the high end of the new range. The company was already in a position to surpass United Parcel Service as the most valuable company in history to go public in the United States, based on market capitalization.

The company plans to stop taking orders Tuesday for its IPO, two days ahead of schedule, a person with knowledge of the transaction said earlier Monday. The offer of 337.4 million shares was oversubscribed, according to people with knowledge of the matter who declined to say by how much orders exceeded the amount of stock on offer.

“They’re swamped with the orders that are in,” said Jon Merriman, chief executive at investment firm Merriman Holdings in San Francisco. “They just need time to determine the price. They can send the message — the books are closing, send in your orders now.”

The higher price range was previously reported by CNBC.

Some institutional investors had balked at buying into Menlo Park, Calif.-based Facebook over concern about the site’s growth prospects, people with knowledge of the matter said last week. In a Bloomberg Global Poll of more than 1,250 investors, analysts and traders, 79 percent said Facebook does not deserve such a high valuation.

“Facebook’s pricing seems to be quite expensive,” said Yves Maillot, head of investments at Robeco Gestions in Paris. The IPO also is pressing ahead in a “very difficult environment for the U.S. equity market.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index sank 1.1 percent to 1,338.35, the lowest level since February, as Greece struggled to form a new government amid mounting concern that the nation may leave the euro. The index fell for a second day as financial companies and energy producers led losses among all 10 of its main industry groups.

Facebook initially planned to finish taking orders Thursday. Its shares will list on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol FB. Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs Group are the lead managers for the sale.

Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg celebrated his 28th birthday Monday, during the final leg of a roadshow aimed at building demand for the IPO and convincing investors that Facebook can make money from mobile users.

— Bloomberg News

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