Several brokerages stop taking Facebook IPO orders

NEW YORK Wed May 16, 2012 9:01pm EDT

The loading screen of the Facebook application on a mobile phone is seen in this photo illustration taken in Lavigny May 16, 2012. Facebook Inc increased the size of its initial public offering by almost 25 percent, and could raise as much as $16 billion as strong investor demand for a share of the No.1 social network trumps debate about its long-term potential to make money. Facebook, founded eight years ago by Mark Zuckerberg in a Harvard dorm room, said on Wednesday it will add about 84 million shares to its IPO, floating about 421 million shares in an offering expected to be priced on Thursday. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud

The loading screen of the Facebook application on a mobile phone is seen in this photo illustration taken in Lavigny May 16, 2012. Facebook Inc increased the size of its initial public offering by almost 25 percent, and could raise as much as $16 billion as strong investor demand for a share of the No.1 social network trumps debate about its long-term potential to make money. Facebook, founded eight years ago by Mark Zuckerberg in a Harvard dorm room, said on Wednesday it will add about 84 million shares to its IPO, floating about 421 million shares in an offering expected to be priced on Thursday.

Credit: Reuters/Valentin Flauraud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Investors who want Facebook Inc shares when the No. 1 online social network goes public later this week may have lost the opportunity. TD Ameritrade and Fidelity's brokerage arm both stopped accepting orders of Facebook shares as of Tuesday evening, according to representatives for each of the companies.

Morgan Stanley & Co did the same, according to three advisers at the firm who declined to be named because they are not authorized to speak to the press. E*Trade Financial also stopped accepting orders as of 4 p.m. Eastern Tuesday, according to a client alert sent out that day.

Wells Fargo & Co's brokerage arm, Wells Fargo Advisors, stopped accepting new orders as of 4:00 p.m. EDT Wednesday, according to two advisers at the firm.

A Morgan Stanley spokesman and a Wells Fargo spokeswoman declined to comment.

Facebook is going public with almost a billion users, nearly $4 billion in annual revenue and a popular brand name.

On Monday Morgan Stanley, one of the 33 underwriters of the much anticipated IPO, told its advisers that it would cap the number of Facebook shares for each client at 500, according to four sources familiar with the situation. The goal is to make the shares widely available. But not everyone will get 500 shares, said the sources.

Some Morgan Stanley advisers with smaller accounts were surprised to learn they might have a chance to get shares for their clients, said one of the sources who is an adviser at the firm. Shares of popular IPOs would usually only be available to institutional investors and to top advisers who have sold IPOs in the past.

"It was a mad scramble," the adviser said. The adviser had less than two days to contact clients to see if they were interested in Facebook and go through the "extensive paperwork," the adviser said. The adviser said several clients did not get their paperwork in by the deadline on Tuesday evening.

An account alert sent out to E*Trade Financial Corp clients obtained by Reuters on Tuesday said the firm would no longer accept new conditional offers for the Facebook IPO as of 4 p.m. Eastern that day, though cancellation and modification of existing orders would still be permitted.

E*Trade was a last minute addition to Facebook's list of 33 underwriters. Officials at the online brokerage were not immediately available for comment.

Fidelity Brokerage, part of privately held FMR Corp in Boston, says it closed the offering period to qualified retail clients and registered investment advisers on Tuesday evening.

"The demand from customers is high," said Fidelity spokesman Stephen Austin. Fidelity has an exclusive retail distribution agreement with Deutsche Bank Securities, an underwriter in the Facebook deal.

(Reporting by Jessica Toonkel; Additional reporting by Jennifer Cummings, John McCrank, Joseph Giannone and Lauren Young; Editing by Gary Hill and Richard Chang)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (3)
K-Sea wrote:
It’s a shame that Facebook went this route. They should have offered their members first chance to obtain stock. Who cares how the system works, Facebook is a different from it’s onset, they should have figured a way for the average user to participate in it’s initial offering.

May 16, 2012 11:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
shadowL wrote:
@ K-Sea most Facebook members are children or young adults with low or no income. They can hardly afford to buy gas, food and life’s necessities. Most could never afford to buy stock in Facebook. Thats also a good thing because they would lose more then they will gain by buying this stock. This stock is a bubble waiting to pop

May 17, 2012 10:31am EDT  --  Report as abuse
elcor wrote:
And I’m persuaded by this comedian review by Glenda Beckk; I’m buying Facebook stock:
http://www.nublobits.com/?i=watch&s=y&v=yiGHt6wuW9A&n=_FACEBOOK_IPO

May 17, 2012 4:25pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.