Everybody wants a piece of Facebook. Personally, I hate Facebook but I have an account like everybody, and it’s hard to argue with the position the monstrous social networking site now occupies. But now we can add “skirting the laws about issuing stock” to reasons to hate Facebook.
A couple of weeks ago, investment bank Goldman Sachs bought just under ten percent of the total Facebook stock mass, not as a buy-and-hold investment but to re-sell to their clients. If you’re a Goldman Sacks client with a large enough portfolio to qualify, this is your chance to own Facebook stock even though Facebook stock isn’t officially available on the open market.
Except, whoops! Because of the way US securities law is written, that might not be legal. I emphasize the phrase “might not be legal” here, both because I’m not an attorney and because there’s some genuine question as to what is “allowed” when private stock transactions take place.
And that’s what’s happening with Goldman Sachs and Facebook stock. Facebook’s stock isn’t being traded on the open market. You can’t just sell it or buy it at a publicly-driven per-share price by calling your broker or going on-line. And I suppose that’s fine. Facebook would prefer to stay a private company and avoid dealing with the morass of regulations by which public companies must abide.
On the other hand, what’s happening with Facebook stock will likely be found to be illegal sooner or later. So now, Goldman Sachs has announced that they still intend to sell Facebook stock to their best clients, but only those who live outside the USA.
Nice job with customer service there, Goldman.
No one should be surprised that Goldman Sachs is skirting the law on the Facebook stock issue; let’s remember the role the investment powerhouse played in the whole financial debacle that’s still gripping the world’s economy. And Facebook is . . . well, they’re Facebook. If you watched the Golden Globes Awards a couple of nights ago you saw the producers of The Social Network (“the Facebook movie”) repeatedly make nice to Facebook even though the movie has been continuously derided by Facebook as a work of fiction. Facebook is THAT powerful. Even if you have a bad relationship with them failing to pretend otherwise is a perilous choice.
But if Facebook has become so powerful they can float Facebook stock out onto the market without having to follow regulations for doing so, and perform “the Facebook stock float” with the help of a company with as dubious a recent track record as Goldman Sachs, and then pretend Facebook stock is being issued privately when it’s obviously not really the case, something’s wrong.
Of course, if you’re a rich, foreign-based Goldman Sachs client you don’t care. In fact, you like this and have already contacted your Goldman Sachs broker to buy some Facebook stock.
Maybe this is just sour grapes. Anyone want to bribe me, next? For enough Facebook stock, my morals can be bought, too.