Blankfein fails to land lead role in Facebook flotation

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The Independent Online

Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein has failed to win the coveted role of lead banking adviser in the Facebook stock market float, despite having already invested in the social networking website.

Morgan Stanley, Goldman's arch-rival, has taken charge of the initial public offering, and will collect the lion's share of the fees, which could be as much as $500m (£315.4m). This was despite reports Blankfein personally pitched for the prestigious contract.

British bankers from Barclays landed a coup as they are also advising on the float, along with US giants Bank of America and JP Morgan.

The fact that at least five banks are involved in the IPO, which could value Facebook at $100bn, means Goldman will be paid a far smaller share of fees.

Morgan Stanley's key role confirms its status as the leading Wall Street bank in technology floats, having helped with the listing of LinkedIn, Groupon and Zynga as well as Google in 2004.

Michael Grimes, Morgan Stanley's global co-head of technology investment banking, is credited as the key player and is said to be close to Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

Goldman, ranked only fourth behind Morgan Stanley on US technology IPOs last year, will be smarting over losing the race for Facebook.

Reports from the US have suggested that Mr Blankfein personally pitched to one Facebook board director last autumn in a bid to win the lead role on the IPO.

His team arranged a $1.5bn private offering of Facebook shares last year, as well as itself buying a $450m stake in the site last January.

But insiders said Facebook had been annoyed by that sale process, after the shares were ultimately offered only to Goldman's private wealth clients outside the US due to legal complications.

Facebook has done much of the preparation for the float in-house.