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Investors fight to buy secret special-offer Facebook equity

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Goldman Sachs is to reportedly end soliciting interest in Facebook shares from wealthy investors later today.

According to the Wall Street Journal, which cited people familiar with the situation, the brokerage has been inundated with orders of "several billion dollars" after the deal emerged over the weekend.

Goldman Sachs offered some of its clients up to $1.5bn in Facebook Inc equity.

At the same time, it was revealed that Facebook got tagged with a valuation of $50bn, after raising $450m from the brokerage and $50m from Russian investor, Digital Sky Technologies, which splurged $200m on Facebook just last year.

The newspaper said that Goldman had merely provided would-be investors with a "snapshot" of Facebook's potential value. Details include online traffic, adverts and other vanilla information, but without any mention of the social networking site's bottom line.

Separately, the WSJ cited people who had viewed an offering document that said Facebook had net income of $200m in 2009 on sales of $777m. However, 2010 figures were kept secret.

While some Goldman Sachs clients have been dribbling at the prospect of investing in Facebook, others have resisted.

One Goldman Sachs partner declined to buy shares in Facebook, according to the paper, by saying that the $50bn valuation was too generous a figure for Mark Zuckerberg's online estate.

"Google's trading at seven times sales. I'm not going to buy Facebook at 25 or 50 times sales," said the ex-Goldman partner. However, he may invest in a Goldman-backed fund that could yet throw cash at Facebook. ®

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