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Facebook, banks ask judge to throw out IPO lawsuit

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg reaped a gain

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg reaped a gain of nearly $2.3 billion last year when he exercised 60 million stock options just before the social network's initial public offering. (April 4, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty Images

Facebook Inc, its Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and dozens of banks asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit accusing the social media company of misleading investors about its financial condition before its $16 billion initial public offering a year ago.

The defendants said in court papers on Wednesday that before the IPO last May 18, Facebook had no obligation to publicly disclose internal projections on how increased mobile usage and product decisions might affect future revenue, even if it had provided the projections to its underwriters' analysts.

They said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has "consistently" refused to require such broad disclosure because of its potential impact on a company's ability to raise money.

"Plaintiffs would have this court impose - retroactively - a rule which the SEC has for decades thoughtfully rejected," the defendants said in papers filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. "This court should decline the invitation." Among the defendants is Morgan Stanley, the lead underwriter of the IPO.

Max Berger, a partner at Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann representing pension fund and other investors that are collectively the lead plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case before U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet consolidates 31 lawsuits over Facebook's IPO.

Sweet also oversees separate investor litigation against Nasdaq OMX Group Inc over allegations that orders to buy and sell Facebook shares were executed improperly on the first day of trading.

Facebook, based in Menlo Park, Calif., went public at $38 per share. Its share price rose as high as $45 on the first day, but quickly fell and remain below their offering price.

Shares of Facebook closed Tuesday at $27.77 on the Nasdaq.

Facebook is scheduled to report quarterly results after U.S.

markets close on Wednesday.

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