Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has sent a warning around Wall Street recently, telling Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and the other banks involved in his company's $100 billion initial public offering (IPO) to stop leaking juicy tidbits to the media, the New York Post has learned.
Zuckerberg, 27, whose stake in the social network giant amounts to around $28 billion, was not too happy that some aspects of the much-anticipated initial stock float -- including the fact that its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission would take place on Feb. 1 -- were disclosed.
Facebook officials let the bankers know about it through phone calls and emails, sources said.
Facebook officials also appeared to be irked about what seemed to be subtle sniping in the press between Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs centered on which firm would grab the coveted lead underwriting role on the IPO -- the highest profile float since Google went public with a $1.7 billion offering back 2004.
Zuckerberg's warning appears to be working.
The powers that be at each bank, sources said, have reacted by warning employees not to discuss the filing.
"[Facebook] wants to be taken seriously and viewed as a blue-ship company," said one bank official familiar with the listing, but not authorized to speak publicly.
Facebook and its team of underwriters are in a so-called quiet period since filing the paperwork, known as an S-1, with regulators.
Although the Facebook emails and calls contained no threats, running afoul of Zuckerberg could result in a bank getting dropped from the IPO. Just two years ago, UBS was dumped from the group of banks handling General Motors' much-anticipated IPO.
For the banks, the Facebook IPO means more than just the $40 million it could earn from the deal. Indeed, landing the prestigious Facebook offering is likely to have a halo effect that could help a bank land future tech IPOs. Getting booted from the deal can have the same halo effect -- in reverse.
At lead underwriter Morgan Stanley, the reaction to Facebook's warning has been quick and unambiguous. Its private wealth advisers were admonished to stay mum on the upcoming IPO -- a difficult task considering clients are clamoring to get in on the action.
Read more about Facebook's coming IPO at the New York Post.