Facebook IPO Front-Runners: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley

Facebook reportedly plans to file documents in early 2012 for its long-awaited initial public offering, and Wall Street rivals Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are in a fierce competition for the lead investment banking role, according to reports.

Facebook reportedly plans to file documents in early 2012 for its long-awaited initial public offering, and Wall Street rivals Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are in a fierce competition for the lead investment banking role, according to reports.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook executives have met with Wall Street firms since Thanksgiving, adding that other banks are in the running, as well, but Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are the two front-runners by a wide margin.

Goldman Sachs led a $1.5 billion private offering of Facebook shares in January, while Morgan Stanley played what the WSJ called the “lead left” role — meaning it had the most authority in the transaction — in the IPO launched by Facebook game developer Zynga earlier this month.

On the negative side for both financial firms, according to the WSJ: Goldman Sachs had to restructure the January private offering to comply with U.S. securities laws, while the Zynga IPO has underperformed for Morgan Stanley.

Estimates have pegged the eventual Facebook IPO at as high as $10 billion, which would place a value of $100 billion or more on the company.

Shares in Facebook in the most recent SharesPost auction earlier this month closed at $33 apiece, up from $30 in the prior auction.

Readers: Do you think the estimated value of Facebook is fair, too high, or too low?