FB pegs value of 104 bn dlr in largest tech IPO

New York: Facebook made history by launching one of the largest initial public offerings for a technology firm, aiming to raise USD 16 billion that pegs the value of the world`s most popular social networking site at USD 104 billion.

Mark Zuckerberg-led Facebook put up 421 million shares of its common stock up for sale late yesterday at a price to the public of USD 38 per share, the company said in a statement.

The shares would begin trading on the NASDAQ exchange today under the symbol `FB`.

In addition, Facebook and the selling stockholders have granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to 63,185,042 additional shares of Class A common stock to cover over-allotments, if any, it added.

The over-allotment could see Facebook raising a total of USD 18.4 billion. Zuckerberg is expected to ring the opening bell at Nasdaq remotely from Facebook`s California headquarters.

Welcoming the IPO, the company is holding an overnight "hackathon" where engineers stay up all night writing programming code to come up with new features for the site.

The public offer is expected to close on May 22. Facebook roped in financial giants like Morgan Stanley, J P Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank Securities to serve as book runners for the offering.

At USD 16 billion, the size of Facebook`s IPO is the third-largest for a US company, with the largest being the Visa IPO, which raised USD 17.9 billion in 2008, according to Renaissance Capital.

For a company that began in a Harvard dorm eight years ago, the IPO will bring a windfall which will give it the financial muscle to develop more services and features and employ the best in the business. .