March 2, 2012 / 1:49 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 2-Yelp prices IPO above range, valued at $900 mln

2 Min Read

* Prices IPO at $15/shr, above expected $12-$14 range

* At IPO price, co valued at almost $900 million

By Aman Shah

March 1 (Reuters) - Yelp Inc priced its initial public offering of class A common stock at $15 a share, above the expected price range, valuing the U.S. consumer review website at nearly $900 million.

The offering generated $106.5 million in proceeds for the company, which offers online reviews of local businesses and services.

Earlier this month, Yelp had said it would sell 7.1 million of the 7.15 million shares in the offering at between $12 and $14 a share.

The company, founded by former PayPal engineers Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons as a start-up idea in a business incubator in 2004, is active in 46 markets in the United States and 25 international markets as of the end of last year.

Yelp shares will begin trading on Friday on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "YELP".

First-Day Stock Pop Seen

The stock is expected to see a first-day pop in its price just like peers Groupon and Angie's List, but concerns persist about its long-term earnings potential and over-dependence on advertising as a revenue generator.

The San Francisco-based company has incurred losses since inception, and had an accumulated debt of about $41.2 million as of December 31.

For the year ended December 31, 2011, Yelp recorded a loss of about $17 million but saw revenue jump 74 percent to $83.3 million.

Like a slew of recent tech and Internet offerings and the upcoming Facebook IPO, Yelp will have two classes of stock -- class A shares being offered to the public worth one vote and class B shares with 10 votes each.

This structure is seen by many as a method to keep voting power restricted to the major stockholders as the outstanding class B common stock will represent about 98.7 percent of voting power following the offering.

Goldman Sachs is the lead bookrunning manager for the offering, while Citigroup and Jefferies acted as joint bookrunning managers.

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