Facebook Reportedly Closes In On May 17 IPO Date

By Jackie Cohen 

Apparently, more people are saying that Facebook wants to schedule its initial public offer on May 17, although no one is going on the record about it.

The May 17 date would depend on the Securities and Exchange Commission approving the necessary paperwork, including filings related to the acquisition of Instagram, TechCrunch reported.

SEC rules effectively prohibit anyone with direct knowledge of the pending transaction to have an on-the-record conversation with the media.

Of course, certain types of individuals have a vested interest in getting the word out, since that would increase the hype over the transaction, which is exactly what the SEC rules try to prevent. It’s the anonymous seekers-of-hype that enable the media to cover things that no one will talk about even though many of us suspect it to be true.

In recent weeks we’ve noticed that the meaning of the term “quiet period” has kicked in: Since last Tuesday when we reported the first rumor of a May 17 IPO scheduling, the volume of news announcements concerning Facebook has tapered off. Of course, some of this can be attributed to spring break, but most schools have that vacation either the week before or after Easter. We’re past that now.

Facebook has stopped trading in private markets, so the shares — which currently number around 2.5 billion outstanding — don’t have any other way to trade until a public offer happens. So if the date doesn’t turn out to be May 17 (or 16), surely it can’t happen much later than that.

But if things get delayed significantly longer, that might be the result of all the hype, ironically. In the past, when companies have run afoul of the SEC rules against overhyping companies right before they go public, the penalty has usually involved a postponement of the deal. That has a way of keeping people in the know quiet, although not to the point that they don’t make anonymous tips to members of the media.

Meanwhile, not trading on private markets anymore is keeping Facebook’s implied valuation from soaring much higher than the last close, which was just over $100 billion.

Now if the public stock market started to move in a different direction, that might motivate Facebook to rethink when it goes public. So far, however, things look bullish as far as we can tell. Readers, do you think Facebook will go public by mid-May ?