Facebook director Thiel sold 20 million shares after lockup

SAN FRANCISCO Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:59pm EDT

Peter Thiel speaks during a news conference on ''nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to economic research and innovative public policies for the 21st century'' at the National Press Club in Washington October 3, 2011. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Peter Thiel speaks during a news conference on ''nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to economic research and innovative public policies for the 21st century'' at the National Press Club in Washington October 3, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc director Peter Thiel sold roughly $400 million worth of shares in the Internet social networking company last week, cashing out most of his stake, according to a regulatory filing.

Thiel sold his shares on Thursday and Friday at average prices ranging between $19.27 and $20.69 per share after the end of the first lockup, which barred early investors and insiders from selling shares following the initial public offering.

The sales, in which Thiel sold roughly 20 million Facebook shares, were conducted as a result of a trading plan that Thiel entered into on May 18, according to the filing.

Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and was among Facebook's earliest backers, still owns roughly 5.6 million shares of Facebook. A spokesman for Thiel declined to comment on the sales.

Accel Partners, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that was also an early backer of Facebook, distributed roughly 57.8 million Facebook shares to the limited partners and general partners of its various funds on Thursday, according to another filing. The move allows those partners to sell or hold on to their distributed Facebook shares as they see fit.

Facebook, founded by Mark Zuckerberg in his Harvard University dorm room, became the only U.S. company to debut with a market value of more than $100 billion. But investors have grown disillusioned with Facebook's inability to articulate a plan to reverse slowing revenue growth.

Shares of Facebook finished Monday's regular trading session at $20.01, down nearly 50 percent from their $38 offering price in May.

More than 1.4 billion additional shares held by early investors and Facebook employees are set to become available for trading by year's end, as additional post-IPO lockup restrictions are lifted.

(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

(This story was corrected fix the number of shares distributed by Accel to 57.8 million)

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