Facebook Abandons Plans to Change Share Structure, Avoiding Lawsuit

By Deepa Seetharaman and Sarah E. Needleman Features Dow Jones Newswires

Facebook Inc. on Friday abruptly abandoned its plan to change the company's stock structure, heading off an impending public trial as the social-media giant grapples with other controversies.

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Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said the recent rise in Facebook's stock price allows him to retain control of Facebook for at least 20 years with the current two-class share structure. Facebook shares have risen more than 50% since April 2016, when the plan was first announced.

Mr. Zuckerberg said he plans to accelerate the sale of shares to fund the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a for-profit entity that allows him to donate to charitable causes and invest in companies that further a global mission.

"We now plan to accelerate our work and sell more of those shares sooner, " Mr. Zuckerberg said, in a blog post Friday. He now expects to sell between 35 million and 75 million Facebook shares over the next 18 months "to fund our work in education, science, and advocacy."

A trial had been scheduled to start Tuesday in Delaware with testimony from Mr. Zuckerberg. He was expected to defend against plaintiffs' claims that conflicts of interest and other problems tainted a board decision to create a new class of shares aimed at ensuring the Facebook co-founder's continued control of the company, even as he gave away 99% of his family's wealth over his lifetime.

An administrator for the Delaware Chancery Court sent an email Friday afternoon saying the trial was "canceled due to a settlement."

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 22, 2017 17:29 ET (21:29 GMT)