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Facebook shares rise 11 pct in frenzied trade

by Alexei Oreskovic
Publication: Reuters

May 18, 2012


Facebook Inc shares opened 11 percent higher on Friday, after the pioneering online social network raised as much as $18.4 billion in one of the biggest initial public offerings in U.S. history.

After a delay in the opening print that drove up anxiety levels among traders and onlookers outside the Nasdaq, the company's closely watched stock began trading at $4 2.05, c ompared with an IPO price of $38.

To rapturous applause from employees, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg -- flanked by Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Nasdaq Chief Executive Robert Greifeld -- rang the bell to kick off trading at the company's Silicon Valley headquarters at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time.

The 28-year-old billionaire founder hugged and high-fived Sandberg and other employees in celebration after he pressed the remote button.

The area outside Facebook's offices at 1 Hacker Way was packed with throngs of photographers, more than 12 television trucks, and a TV news helicopter hovering overhead as the excitement reached fever pitch.

With a value of $104 billion, Facebook became the first American company to debut at over a $100 billion. It is larger than Starbucks Corp and Hewlett-Packard combined.

"A 15 to 20 percent pop is in the realm of possibility," said Tim Loughran, a finance professor at the University of Notre Dame, before the start of trade.

"Given they already moved their IPO range up and increased the size, that's bullish to begin with."

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