Rumor: Facebook could file for IPO on February 1

One of the most highly anticipated initial public offerings in recent history could become a reality this week. The Wall Street Journal reports via unnamed sources that Facebook could file the papers to start publicly trading its stock as early as Wednesday, February 1. The article does add that the Wednesday filing date could be pushed back with some of the company's executives thinking about holding off for a few weeks before sending the papers into the US Security and Exchange Commission.

The article also reports that Facebook is close to picking Morgan Stanley over Goldman Sachs as its lead underwriter. Morgan Stanley was the underwriter behind a number of tech-based IPOs in 2011, including LinkedIn, the Facebook-based game publisher Zynga and more.

People have been anticipating that Facebook would file for its IPO for months. When its stock does go up for sale the total worth of the social networking service could be as high as $100 billion, which would make the company worth about half that of Google right out of the box. Facebook will likely seek to raise $10 billion from the sale of its stock. By comparison, Google launched its IPO back in 2004, raising $1.9 billion and getting a total value at the time of $23 billion.

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