Facebook’s Russian investor, Digital Sky Technologies, is in the process of purchasing more Facebook shares — from former employees — sources tell us. This follows the employee stock sale to DST, which closed in August. The amount DST is looking to spend could be around $200 million or $300 million, says one source, although a Wall Street Journal article from August reported “at least $100 million” and another report from Reuters today said “up to $100 million.”
Why does this matter? Although Facebook has repeatedly said it has no near-term plans for an initial public offering, the market appears to be heating up. Already, whether by DST or other investors, are taking more ex-employee stock off the private market.
A second-hand broker of Facebook stock recently said that the Russian investor was looking to enter the market again, another source tells us. The implication is that DST was going to be coming in to the market, and making it a lot harder for other people to purchase Facebook stock. Last month, for example, Facebook stock was available on SharesPost, a second-hand market from private company stock. Nothing is available today on the site, although the site says there are “35 potential sellers.”
Facebook employees were treated first in the original deal, we hear — confirming what TechCrunch wrote in August. In that deal, DST bought $100 million shares of common stock from employees at a $6.5 million valuation, with shares being valued at $14.77 a piece. DST is looking to buy shares for around the same price, although we hear second-hand sellers are making a premium.
In August, DST also bought $200 million in preferred Facebook stock, obtaining a total 3.5 percent share of the company after the deals were completed in August. Then and now, Facebook executives are being treated separately; they have not participated in any DST-related purchases that we know of.
Stock from former Facebook employees has been available through private brokers for years, creating a strange sort of second-hand private equity market. This secondary Facebook stock market — the full amount on the market is not currently known — has until now been readily available for qualified investors who were willing to pay the price.
DST and Facebook did not comment on this story.