Groupon to investors: Ignore co-founder's claim that we'll be 'wildly profitable'

Online discount site tries to avoid violating SEC's 'quiet period' for IPOs

It's not often that you see a company trying to make a splash on Wall Street telling investors to ignore claims it will be "wildly profitable."

But that's what Groupon did in an amended registration statement filed Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

(Also see: Ganging up on Groupon)

The Chicago-based purveyor of online discount offers isn't being self-effacing. It's merely following the SEC's "quiet period" rules, which prohibit company officials from talking publicly in the time between the the original S-1 filing (which Groupon submitted on June 2) and the IPO.

According to Groupon's amended SEC document, co-founder and Executive Chairman Eric Lefkofsky was quoted in a June 5 Bloomberg News story as saying the company "was going to be wildly profitable":

The story and reported statement has been reprinted in various news media outlets. Mr. Lefkofsky did not agree to be interviewed for the news story and, through representatives, requested that the statement not be published. The reported statement does not accurately or completely reflect Mr. Lefkofsky's views and should not be considered by prospective investors in isolation or at all.

A few more observations and questions: 1) I know Groupon is doing what it has to do to avoid running afoul of SEC regs, but let's face it, there's no unringing the bell, and 2) what does the company mean by the "reported statement does not accurately or completely reflect Mr. Lefkofsky's views"? Does it mean Lefkofsky harbors doubts about Groupon's future or its level of success? Has he discussed this with fellow co-founders Andrew Mason and Bradley Keywell?

One more question: What does Groupon mean when it says Lefkofsky "did not agree to be interviewed for the news story"? Are they saying Bloomberg got the quote third-hand or even made it up? Or was it intended to be one of those "sources familiar with the matter" quotes that companies use to manipulate the media?

Groupon says it hopes to raise up to $750 million with the IPO and will trade under the ticker symbol GRPN, though it hasn't announced whether it will trade on the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq.

The company also said in Thursday's amended filing that JPMorgan has been added as a fourth lead underwriter, joining Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse.

In the days after Groupon filed to go public, it came under heavy criticism from analysts who cited the company's operating losses, heavy spending and debt.

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