Facebook expects to get approval from government regulators to officially distribute its S-1 initial public offering (IPO) prospectus to investors within days, which would pave the way for a road show to begin as early as next week, sources close to the situation said Tuesday.
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The social networking giant is expected to go public in the second or third week of May, a timeline that currently appears to be on track.
In addition -- although some have speculated that its famous CEO and cofounder, Mark Zuckerberg, might not take a "hands-on" role in the high-profile process, having missed one pre-IPO meeting with Wall Street analysts and bankers -- sources said he would be appearing before potential shareholders and would be present at key meetings to help sell the company to them.
"Facebook is Mark Zuckerberg, and Mark Zuckerberg is Facebook," one person with knowledge of the situation said. "He'll do his job as CEO, as he always does."
Indeed, although he is often portrayed as shy and not a fan of the limelight, Zuckerberg has always stepped up -- and rather enthusiastically -- when a public appearance is needed, whether in times of trouble or touting for the eight-year-old company.
This is a touting Facebook moment, of course, as it seeks to raise up to $10 billion in a blockbuster offering that could value the company at $75 billion or more. Filed in February, that will make it the biggest internet IPO ever.
Also expected to play key roles in the road show are Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, as well as other top Facebook execs.
Whether they all can rev up the jets and get going on the road show depends on the Securities and Exchange Commission finally declaring Facebook's preliminary prospectus of its business and finances "effective," or in legal compliance.
Among the areas of likely concern are the Yahoo patent lawsuit and, most importantly, how Zuckerberg and others characterize the slowing of its explosive revenue growth in its most recent filing update.
Last week, Facebook said its revenue was $1.058 billion, up 46 percent for the year but down six percent from the previous quarter. In the first quarter of 2012, its net income was $205 million, which was down from $233 million a year ago. The company attributed the decline to rising costs, including in marketing and in research.