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Facebook Sets May 18 IPO Date (Report)

Mark Zuckerberg Horizontal - H 2012
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The social network is also expected to launch a cross-country investors' roadshow next week.

Let the countdown begin: Facebook is preparing to go public on May 18, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Citing sources close to the situation, the WSJ reported that the social network will embark on an IPO roadshow beginning May 7, and was readying to launch its initial public stock offering on the 18th should things go smoothly during the investor pitches.

The IPO could raise a projected $10 billion, valuing Facebook at about $100 billion; the company recently acquired the photo-sharing app Instagram in a $1 billion deal, largely spearheaded by CEO Mark Zuckerberg without input from his board. According to the WSJ, he'll be present at some stops during the roadshow, with COO Sheryl Sandberg and CFO David Ebersman mostly leading the effort.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that the presentations to investors will last around nine days and take place in New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Baltimore and potentially Los Angeles.

Facebook's IPO would be the largest in internet history, over Groupon, Zynga and Google; but there are challenges ahead, and possible changes in plans, given market conditions and regulators' actions. And investor doubt: in the first quarter, the company's profits dropped 12 percent to $205 million as expenses piled up.