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Report: Facebook Inc. slated to go public

SAN FRANCISCO -- Facebook Inc. is expected to move forward with its initial public offering of shares early next year, as anticipated, and could be valued at more than $100 billion, according to a report published Monday.

CNBC, citing unnamed sources, reported that the social-networking service will likely stage its highly anticipated IPO in the first quarter, "with a valuation that could top $100 billion."

One factor in the timing of the IPO is a Securities and Exchange Commission regulation for companies to start publicly disclosing financial data once they have more than 500 investors, according to the report.

A Facebook spokesman declined to comment.

Facebook has long anticipated reaching the 500-investor mark, and at that point potentially moving ahead with an IPO that would bring in additional capital as the company starts making its financial disclosures.

In documents provided to prospective investors as part of a $1.5 billion funding round for Facebook led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and closed in January, the company said that it expected "it will have 500 or more holders of record" of one or more classes of its stock as of the end of this year.

As a result, Facebook said it expected to start filing public financial disclosures "no later than April 30, 2012."

Another factor behind Facebook's impending IPO, according to the CNBC report, is the current difficulty faced by employees who hope to cash in some of the equity offered to them as an enticement to join the company.

Facebook, like other firms, has a so-called "right of first refusal" related to insider shares, which lends the company an ability to veto a sale to an outsider, or purchase the stock itself.

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