Facebook 'worth up to 95bn dollars'

Facebook has set a price range for an initial public offering of stock that values the company at up to 95 billion dollars (£58.6 billion) .

Facebook's IPO would be the biggest ever for an Internet company. Facebook disclosed the price range of 28 dollars (£17) to 35 dollars (£21) per share in a regulatory filing.

At the high end, Facebook and its current shareholders could raise as much as 13.58 billion dollars (£8.3 billion). That happens if the underwriters sell extra stock reserved for over-allotments, which they will likely do given the excitement surrounding the IPO.

That's much higher than the 2004 IPO for current record-holder Google Inc., which raised 1.9 billion dollars (£1.2 billion) including the over-allotment. The IPO valued the company at 23 billion dollars (£14.2 billion) . Google is now worth about 200 billion dollars (£123 billion).

Facebook's IPO has been highly anticipated, not just because of how much money it will raise but because Facebook itself is so popular. The world's largest online social network has more than 900 million users worldwide.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who turns 28 this month, has emerged as a wunderkind leader who's led Facebook through unprecedented growth from its scrappy start as a hangout for Harvard students.

Facebook's offering values the company at 76 billion dollars (£47 billion) to 95 billion dollars (£59 billion), based on the expected number of Facebook shares following the IPO. That's about 2.74 billion, according to Renaissance Capital, an IPO investment adviser.

Facebook's next step is to go on an "IPO road show," where executives talk to potential investors about why they should invest in the stock. On Thursday, Facebook posted a version of its road show online, with appearances from Zuckerberg; the vice president of product, Chris Cox; and other executives.

If all goes well, Facebook's stock is expected to price on May 17 and make its public debut on May 18.

Zuckerberg will keep tight control over the company even after the IPO. He will control 57.3% of the company's voting power, through stocks he owns or because other shareholders have promised to vote his way through shares that they own. This means he will have final say over the biggest decisions facing the company even after it goes public.