Facebook Inc. could file papers for an initial public offering as early as next week and is close to picking Morgan Stanley as the lead underwriter for its IPO, said people familiar with the matter.
According to the Wall Street Journal, people familar with the IPO of Facebook indicated that Morgan Stanley could emerge as the strong frontrunner and management firm for the IPO.
Facebook could file papers for the IPO as early as this coming Wednesday, but that timing is still being discussed, said a person familiar with the matter. The company is currently looking at a valuation of $75 billion to $100 billion, this person said.
Morgan Stanley, people familiar said, is the strong frontrunner for the much-coveted "lead left" position on Facebook's IPO documents to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Facebook's IPO, which people familiar with the matter earlier said could raise as much as $10 billion, has been hotly anticipated as a defining moment for the latest Web investing boom. The Menlo Park, Calif. social-networking company, which has more than 800 million members, has changed the way people interact with each other and share information on the Internet.
A Facebook spokesman declined to comment. A Morgan Stanley spokesman also declined to comment.
The race to lead the management of the company's IPO has been one of the most competitive contests on Wall Street in the past year. For investment banks, leading the offering will likely mean tens of millions of dollars in fees as well as bragging rights.
The IPO is likely to have two or more active managers, people familiar with the matter said. Morgan Stanley rival Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is expected to play a significant role in the deal, according to people familiar with the matter. As a result, Goldman also would likely also snag significant fees.
Still, losing out on the lead position would be seen as a blow to Goldman Sachs, which fought hard for a piece of the deal. Goldman Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein actively courted at least one Facebook board member in an attempt to win the deal, said a person familiar with the matter.
The firm was seen as having an edge on the IPO after the investment bank orchestrated a $1.5 billion private offering of Facebook shares in January 2011. However, its odds were seen as declining amid a flub in that process that led the bank to limit the offering to non-U.S. investors.
A spokeswoman for Goldman declined to comment.
Morgan Stanley led more U.S. and world-wide Internet IPOs than any other Wall Street firm in 2011. Goldman Sachs led the league for global IPOs of all kinds last year, according to Dealogic, which tracks securities sales.
The largest global technology IPO on record was a $5.9 billion offer in 2000 by Infineon Technologies AG, the former semiconductor unit of Siemens AG, Dealogic said.
The largest global Internet IPO was a $2.8 billion sale by World Online International NV, a European Internet service provider, also in 2000. The largest U.S. Internet IPO, the $1.9 billion sale in 2004 by Google Inc. which valued Google at $23 billion, ranks No. 3 among global Internet IPOs.