Goldman: No Facebook Deal for U.S. Clients

By DANIEL MACHT
|  Monday, Jan 17, 2011  |  Updated 2:13 PM PDT
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Facebook and Goldman -- it's complicated.

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Goldman Sachs is unfriending U.S. clients from its Facebook deal.

The Wall Street giant said it would limit a proposed $1.5 billion investment opportunity in Facebook to Goldman’s off-shore clients, saying “intense media attention” surrounding the deal could put the firm on a collision course with the feds, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Goldman said execs "concluded the level of media attention might not be consistent with the proper completion of a U.S. private placement under U.S. law," the paper reported.

While Goldman said the move was not “required or requested by any other party,” it comes as the Securities and Exchange Commission has reportedly launched a probe into the deal.

At issue is whether Goldman’s “special-purpose investment vehicle” for clients to invest in Facebook would raise the private tech firm’s number of investors above 500 – forcing Facebook to disclose more about its financial health to the public.

Feds are also looking into whether media coverage of Goldman’s investment opportunity would constitute “general solicitation and advertising,” which is not allowed for private offerings, Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times reported.

On Jan. 2, the Times broke news of the deal, which also involved Goldman investing $450 million of its own money in Facebook and giving the social network a sky-high valuation of $50 billion.

Goldman told the Journal it “regrets the consequences” of its decision to bar U.S. clients from the deal.

Sorkin writes it is unclear whether Goldman will raise all the money it initially pledged to for Facebook and the kerfuffle could threaten Goldman’s status as the most-favored bank to eventually take the company public.

Or in Facebook terms, the two firms' relationship now moves into “it’s complicated” territory.

Selected Reading: NYT, FT, Business Insider, WSJ

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