NetSuite IPO Auction Under Way

NetSuite on Monday said it has finally launched the auction portion of its initial public offering, giving individual investors rather than underwriters the opportunity to set its opening stock price.

Company executives have said NetSuite plans to use its IPO proceeds to pay off debt, build a second datacenter and possibly make some acquisitions.

The firm, which is using a modified Dutch auction format just as Google did for its IPO in 2004, said it expects its shares to be priced after the stock market closes on Dec. 19.

The auction-style, 6.2-million-share offering is designed to give smaller individual investors a fair shot at owning shares in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) pioneer. Credit Suisse is serving as the book-running manager, with W.R. Hambrecht & Co. acting as co-manager.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, NetSuite set an initial price range of between $13 and $16 a share. However, based on the demand or lack thereof for NetSuite shares during the auction, that price could be adjusted up or down.

If the shares were to go out at the high end of the range, NetSuite would likely raise just under $100 million for the 6.2 million shares.

In addition to structuring its IPO to appeal to smaller investors, NetSuite will also be taking a unique approach to the involvement of its majority owner, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.

When it first announced its IPO plans in July, the company said Ellison would put his directly owned stake — roughly 60 percent of all outstanding shares — into a “lockbox.” That move would mean that Ellison is effectively stripped of voting rights in NetSuite endeavors, eliminating most of the conflict-of-interest concerns he might face as CEO of a significant competitor.

Founded in 1998, the San Mateo, Calif.-based company has yet to turn a profit, posting a net loss of $35.7 million in 2006 on sales of $67.2 million. In first three quarters of this year, it has lost more than $20.6 million.

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