CHICAGO — Hoping to get in on Facebook’s hotly anticipated public stock offering? You’ll need Facebook friends at very high levels — or a lot of money.
Most people who like the idea of owning Facebook’s stock will have difficulty getting it at the offer price, currently expected at $28 to $35 a share. Unless you know the right people at Facebook, you’ll likely need to have a large, active account with one of the big banks or brokerage firms directly involved in the stock sale.
Otherwise, you can take your chances by buying shares after the initial public offering is completed, when Facebook begins trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the ticker symbol “FB.” That’s likely to happen Friday.
Doing it that way typically means paying much more for the stock, however. And heavy demand skews the early stock price, leaving an investor vulnerable to the risk of a big drop.
Jerome Cleary isn’t deterred. One of a legion of Facebook fans, he has never wanted to own a stock as much as he wants to buy this one. Cleary, a standup comedian in Los Angeles, said he has already signed up for an account with a discount online brokerage so he’ll be ready.
“I know you should buy stock in what you know and like,” Cleary said. “I feel that because they have an incredible mass of wealth and such growing popularity, the stock really may pay off.”
Facebook’s IPO is expected to be the largest ever for an Internet company. It’s expected to raise as much as $11.8 billion for Facebook and its early investors — far more than the $1.67 billion raised in Google’s 2004 IPO.
Analysts said there’s so much interest in Facebook’s stock that some underwriters are closing their books as early as today. This means they won’t take any more orders from potential buyers. The IPO is expected to be completed late Thursday, with shares available for trading Friday.
Scott Sweet, the owner of advisory firm IPOBoutique, said the high demand also means that Facebook might raise the per-share price above $35, the high end of the range Facebook currently expects.