Investment bankers are furiously jockeying for a piece of Facebook's $10 billion initial public offering next spring, says Francesco Guerrera in The Wall Street Journal. But Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg should ignore all those "'Like' comments" and "unfriend Wall Street." Thanks to "its size, business model, and popularity, Facebook is the rare company that doesn't need Wall Street to go public." And for its own sake, and the sake of fairness, Facebook should put self-dealing bankers "out of their misery with a firm 'thanks, but no thanks.'" Here, an excerpt:
Zuckerberg's has two options: A traditional IPO, in which banks distribute shares to investors in exchange for a percentage of total proceeds; and the little-used "Dutch auction" that cuts out the Wall Street middlemen by making the allocation of shares dependent on prices bid by each investor.
The biggest difference between the two systems, apart from the lower fees paid by companies in auctions, is that when IPOs go Dutch, banks don't choose who gets shares, giving all investors a fair shake and avoiding potential conflicts of interests. ...
If traditional IPOs are flawed, why have Dutch auctions been used in fewer than 30 cases? Two main reasons: They aren't for everybody, and Google's less-than-stellar auction seven years ago.... That should be a cautionary tale for Mr. Zuckerberg and his colleagues. But it should not dissuade them from using Facebook's strengths to subvert one of Wall Street's most enduring conventions and give investors a clean run at his company.
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