Friday, April 29, 2011

"Can Goldman Short Facebook?" (GS)

Inquiring minds want to know.
From CNBC's NetNet::
The private market valuation of Facebook recently took a hit when a group of investors looking to sell a large number of shares had to reduce their asking price. The implied valuation from the sale went from $90 billion to $70 billion.

This raises an important question: can you short Facebook? 

Facebook shares do not trade on public markets.  To buy or sell shares of Facebook, you have to be qualify as an “accredited investor” and trade through a specialized platform for equity in non-public companies. Most of the buying or selling of Facebook shares takes place on SecondMarket. 

As far as I can tell, it’s not possible to short Facebook shares on SecondMarket. To sell shares, you have to prove you have them—so naked shorting is out. And there’s no facility for borrowing shares—a crucial step in a short sale. 

This means that most investors have no way to bet against Facebook’s astronomical valuations. What’s more, it means that the only people who influence the pricing on Facebook’s valuation are venture capitalists, early Facebook employees with stock grants, and people who want to bid on shares. That’s a recipe for a bullish bias on the shares. 

But there is one company that probably can short Facebook—Goldman Sachs...MORE