Facebook Downplays IPO Talk Amid Stock Shuffle

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Facebook has reshuffled its stock structure to give existing shareholders greater control over the company, move that could pave the way for an eventual public offering.

The company confirmed that it enacted a dual-class stock structure, allowing the current shareholders “to maintain control over voting on certain issues.”

A source familiar with the arrangement told InternetNews.com that the deal would involve separating Facebook’s shares into class A and class B categories, conferring on class B shareholders 10 times the voting rights as class A.

That arrangement consolidates control of the company under CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other current shareholders, a move that is common among privately held companies gearing up for a public offering.

The company looked to quell speculation about a looming IPO, however.

“This revision to the stock structure should not be construed as a signal the company is planning to go public,” Facebook spokesman Larry Yu told InternetNews.com. “Facebook has no plans to go public at this time.”

Rumors about Facebook’s plans for an IPO gathered steam in March, when the company dismissed its chief financial officer and said it was looking to fill the spot with “someone with public company experience.”

That someone turned out to be David Ebersman, who had previously served as CFO and executive vice president at the biotech giant Genentech.

Earlier this year, Facebook said that it had seen its revenues spike 70 percent over 2008, putting it on a path to positive cash flow.

In May, Facebook took a $200 million investment from Russian firm Digital Sky Technologies.

That deal involved a two-tier buy-in, based on a $10 billion valuation in the first round, and a $6.5 billion valuation in the second.

Both of those figures are well below the lofty $15 billion valuation that accompanied Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) investment in the company in 2007.

In the meantime, Facebook company continues its impressive growth rate, vaulting past the milestone of 300 million users earlier this year.

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