When you're readying what is expected to be the biggest Internet-related initial public offering of all time, stoking irrational investor interest is Job No. 1. Facebook is laying the groundwork for its full-scale assault on investor reason by hiring most of Wall Street to hype its IPO. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. Facebook revealed in its latest filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it has added 25 underwriters to the six originally tabbed to sell its shares, which are expected by some to raise as much as $10 billion for the social networking giant and value it at $100 billion. (If you assert it enough times, that makes it true!) The new list of underwriters, which now totals 31, reads like a Wall Street investment bank directory. Joining the original half-dozen underwriters Morgan Stanley (lead), J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital and Allen & Company are Citigroup Global Markets, Credit Suisse Securities and Deutsche Bank Securities. There's a place in Facebook's amended S-1 where it can tell readers how many shares each underwriter will be allotted, but it's blank for now. No surprise, since the company hasn't yet announced how many shares it will offer or the expected share price. However, while Facebook hasn't chosen an exchange on which to be listed (NYSE or Nasdaq), it has a ticker symbol ready to go: FB. The company filed to go public on February 1. The Facebook IPO will culminate several years of incredible hype regarding the social network's growth and reach. Over the past year, the value of Facebook shares trading on private exchanges have continued to rise, fueled in part by continued injections of venture capital and -- just my opinion -- media manipulation by anonymous sources who undoubtedly have a huge vested interest in creating a Facebook IPO frenzy. Now the company has 25 more potential anonymous sources to prime the sucker pump, quiet period or no quiet period. Sounds harsh, I know, but IPOs far too often fly and then flop, leaving the excitable rubes holding the bag and insiders making off with huge profits. Shrewd move, Facebook.
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