Facebook insiders had said privately that they expected the company’s IPO would come in 2012 but that date now appears to be down on paper. The WSJ says the social network has told potential investors that it will either go public by April 2012 or publicly disclose financial information by that date.
Under a deal reported earlier this week, Goldman Sachs created a special investment option so that wealthy clients could invest in the social networking site. The special investment vehicle would allow the clients to pool together and be treated as only one of Facebook’s investors but that arrangement has drawn questions from the SEC, which is investigating whether Facebook may be trying to do an end-run around a rule that requires private companies with more than 500 shareholders to disclose financial information.
The rule, however, only requires companies who pass the threshold to report financial information within “120 days after the last day of its fiscal year.” By promising investors that it will either go public or disclose the information by 2012, Facebook seems to have made the SEC inquiry null, since it will be reporting the information even if the Goldman Sachs investment vehicle cannot be officially treated as one investor.
Already, new information about Facebook’s financial state is leaking out because of the social network’s pitch to Goldman Sachs investors. The WSJ reported yesterday that an offering document showed that Facebook’s sales in 2009 were $777 million and its net income was $200 million — numbers that were largely in line with some previous estimates. Reuters (NYSE: TRI) says today that other documents show that the company’s revenue during the first nine months of 2010 was $1.2 billion and its net income was $355 million.