Facebook raises stock offering, shoots for $18.5B with IPO

Social network expected to offer 421 million shares in market debut Friday

Facebook's initial public offering may be getting even bigger.

Reports circulating Tuesday claimed that the social network is working to increase the size of its IPO by 85 million shares, according to MSNBC and other sources. Such an increase in the number of shares that will be available to potential investors would mean that the company could raise up to $18.5 billion in its initial public offering.

The plan for the 25% increase in shares is expected to be filed in documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today. The company now is expected to offer more than 421 million shares.

Facebook's market debut is expected Friday.

The news comes on the heels of Facebook's decision to raise the price range of its stock shares Tuesday.

The social network filed an amendment to its IPO registration with the SEC that increased its estimated stock price to the range of $34 to $38 per share. That's up from the original range of $29 to $34 per share.

The new price range could boost Facebook's valuation to more than $100 billion.

The company was expected to close the books on its IPO on Tuesday and then officially set its stock price Thursday.

Facebook is pushing forward, increasing its stock price and the number of shares that will be available, despite strikes against its public image in the past week.

A survey released Tuesday found that half of Americans think Facebook is a passing fad. Moreover, three out of every five Facebook users say they have little or no faith that the social network will keep their personal information private, according to the survey.

In another development Tuesday, General Motors, believed to be the country's third-largest advertiser, pulled a $10 million advertising deal from Facebook. The automaker concluded that its paid ads on the social network weren't helping it sell more products.

That's tough timing for Facebook executives, who have been trying to convince potential investors to buy stock in their company as they tour the country in an IPO roadshow. A major theme of Facebook's pitch to investors has been the strength of its advertising business.

Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Group, said GM's pullout, days before the IPO debut, was a blow to Facebook and could prompt serious, old-school investors to rethink whether to buy Facebook's stock.

"The GM thing alone looked like some [Facebook] executive ticked GM off and they punitively worked to torpedo the IPO," said Enderle. "Their announcement basically says Facebook's revenue is based on a false premise that advertising is actually worth something on the service."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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