LinkedIn details $345m IPO plan

By Charlotte Raab

LinkedIn plans to offer 7.84 million shares priced at between $32 and $35 as it becomes the first major US social network to go public.

The Mountain View, California-based social network for professionals is expected to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange within the next month and will use the symbol "LNKD."

LinkedIn, which has more than 100 million members in over 200 countries and territories, is seeking to raise as much as $274.4 million (NZ$345.41m) from the initial public offering (IPO) with $146.6 million going to the company itself.

LinkedIn will offer around 4.8 million shares to the public with the remaining three million coming from other shareholders.

LinkedIn's biggest shareholder is its founder and chairman, Reid Hoffman, who owns more than 21 percent of the company.

The career-oriented social network had initially set an overall target of $175 million when it registered for its IPO with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in January.

LinkedIn's debut on the stock market will be closely watched by investors ahead of a potential IPO next year by social networking titan Facebook, which has more than 500 million members around the world.

LinkedIn, in an updated filing with the SEC on Monday, said it plans to use the money raised through the IPO to fuel expansion.

LinkedIn, whose members cultivate and manage career or business networks in the online community, hit 100 million members in March. Forty-four million live in the United States and 56 million outside of the country.

LinkedIn grew by 428 percent in Brazil last year, by 178 percent in Mexico, by 76 percent in India and 72 percent in France.

The company more than doubled its revenue last year to $243 million, according to its filing with the SEC, and reported a net profit of $3.42 million in 2010 after suffering a loss in 2009.

LinkedIn, however, said it does not expect to be profitable this year as it steps up investment aimed at generating further growth.

Its revenue comes from advertising, subscriptions for premium services, and "hiring solutions" that connect recruiters with candidates.

Chinese social network Renren began trading on Wall Street last week. Renren shares were offered at $14 and were trading at $17.08 at mid-day on Monday.

The Chinese site, whose name means "everyone," was founded in 2005 and is the top social networking site in China, where government censors have blocked Facebook.

Lou Werner of Wedbush Securities said he expected LinkedIn to have a successful IPO.

"There's tremendous interest by investors in all things social," Werner told AFP. "It's a great company and we're not surprised that there's tremendous enthusiasm."

"It's more of a niche than Facebook," he added. "But still, a valuation of $3 billion is a pretty healthy valuation for a company that's eight years old."

- AFP

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