Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, left. Co-founder Eduardo Saverin, 30, right. Two U.S. senators want to ban Saverin from the U.S. because he dropped his U.S. citizenship -- a move the senators charge was meant to dodge taxes.AP2011
May 18, 2012: Electronic screens inside the Nasdaq stock market announce the listing of Facebook shares before the start of trading in New York.AP
Two workers chat each other at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.AP2012
Facebook is making history --and waves.
One of Facebook’s founders, Eduardo Saverin, who previously helds dual U.S. and Brazilian citizenship but who has renounced his United States citizenship, finds himself the target of proposed legislation that bans him from returning to the U.S. from Singapore, where he currently resides. The move is expected to save him hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes stemming from the company's initial public offering.
Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and other founder of the ground-breaking social network, prepared for its public debut in the stock market on Friday.
Facebook’s debut will be the third-biggest U.S. IPO – or initial public offering – in U.S. history.
Zuckerberg, who turned 28 on May 14, plans to sell 30.2 million shares in the IPO offering. That will net Zuckerberg about $1.1 billion.
But Zuckerberg won't be hanging on to his cash. Spokespeople for Facebook, which launched in 2004, said he will use the "substantial majority" of the windfall to cover the massive tax bill he'll be hit with, thanks to his plan to exercise a large stock-options grant that will increase his ownership stake in the company he founded.
After the offering, Zuckerberg will hold 503.6 million shares, or about 31% of the company. That stake is worth $19.1 billion.
Venture capital firm Accel Partners, which is the largest shareholder outside of Zuckerberg, is selling 49 million shares in the offering. That's about a quarter of its Facebook holdings. Facebook will trade under the symbol FB.
Latinos --the nation's largest minority --are a big part of Facebook, and Facebook a big part of life for Latinos.
According to online marketing company BIG Research, Latinos have taken up Facebook faster than non-Latinos. In all, 54.2 percent of Hispanics online regularly use Facebook, just above non-Latino blacks at 47.7 percent and non-Latino whites at 43 percent.
But will they benefit from Facebook going public? Not so much, polls indicate.
Only one in six Hispanics reported owning stocks, bonds or mutual funds, according to a survey last year conducted by the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation. In comparison, one in four African Americans and half of whites say they invested in those financial products. Just 46 percent of blacks and 32 percent of Hispanics said they had an individual retirement account or any similar retirement arrangement; two in three whites said they had IRA’s 401(k)s or similar holdings.
While Zuckerberg has been soaking up the excitement of Facebook IPO fever, Saverin is getting blasted by two U.S. senators, who call him a tax dodger.
The Brazil-born 30-year-old became a U.S. citizen in 1998 but has lived in Singapore since 2009.
Giving up his citizenship will allow him to avoid paying taxes on billions of dollars of capital gains from Facebook's IPO launch. Singapore does not have a capital gains tax.
Saverin gave up his citizenship in the first quarter of this year, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service said.
"Eduardo recently found it to be more practical to become a resident of Singapore since he plans to live there for an indefinite period of time," Saverin's New York-based spokesman Tom Goodman said Tuesday in a statement.
Goodman said that because Saverin plans to invest in Brazilian and global companies that have strong interests in entering Asian markets, "it made the most sense for him to use Singapore as a home base."
But U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) say they aren't buying Saverin's story.
The senators want to make sure he never sets foot in the United States again unless he pays tens of millions of dollars in taxes he will owe after the company's initial public offering.
On Thursday, the senators introduced legislation to punish anyone who gives up citizenship to duck big tax bills.
Saverin has a 4 percent stake in Facebook, which has headquarters in Menlo Park, California. Analysts say the company could be worth $100 billion.
Saverin founded Facebook with Zuckerberg in 2004 while the two were students at Harvard University. Saverin gained additional fame when his conflict with Zuckerberg and departure from the company was depicted in the 2010 movie "The Social Network."
"This is a great American success story gone wrong," Schumer said. "Mr. Saverin wants to de-friend the United States just to avoid paying taxes, and we're not going to let him get away with it."
Meanwhile, as Saverin and Zuckerberg focus on what to do with their added wealth, demand for the stock by the rest of the world is expected to explode.
At its initial offering price of $38 a share, the 8-year-old upstart is now worth more than established heavyweights Disney and Kraft.
Here are some key questions and answers about Facebook's IPO:
Q: So why is Facebook going public?
A: The same reason many other fast-growing companies do: to raise money. Selling stock to the public gives companies money to run their businesses, expand and buy other companies. Sometimes companies go public even if they have no plans for the money. Facebook says it wants to establish a public market for its shares in case it needs to raise money from investors in the future.
Q: What happens in an IPO?
A: The company sells ownership stakes to the public for the first time. Facebook plans to sell up to 421 million shares. That represents a 15 percent stake in the company. The sale is expected to raise $16 billion.
Q: Who owns shares of Facebook now?
A: Well-connected investors, employees and top insiders like company directors. They are selling 241 million shares, or more than half the total being sold. The company has said it's selling shares at $38 each. At that price, those early owners will pocket $9 billion, or an average of $230 million each. The company will get $7 billion.
Q: Who will buy the shares?
A: In an IPO, there are two buyers. The first are the investment banks that helped the company file IPO documents with regulators and contacted pension funds, mutual funds and other big institutions to gauge a price for the shares. These investment banks are called underwriters. In Facebook's case, 33 banks are helping out; Morgan Stanley has the lead role. The underwriters guarantee to the company that they'll buy all of the shares at the IPO price.
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