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Groupon IPO back on the cards

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Groupon's IPO is back on track for late October or early November after a short-lived delay earlier this month.

The daily deals site had cancelled its roadshow – the part of the process where it goes around trying to get people interested in buying its shares – which was due to take place this week. The cancellation prompted speculation that the IPO was at least delayed, if not cancelled.

But people briefed on the matter told the New York Times that the coupon company was now aiming to go public at the end of October or start of November, after being delayed partially by an issue with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and partly by the volatile markets.

A Groupon spokesperson told The Reg that the company could not comment on the IPO.

The potential stumbling block with the SEC was a leaked email from Groupon CEO Andrew Mason to his employees, because it came during the company's quiet period – the time before going public where it's not allowed to say anything that might affect its share price.

Mason did just that in an email where he went mental at critics who had called into question Groupon's financial metrics, in particular the Adjusted Consolidated Segment Operating Income (ACSOI), which gave revenues before marketing and acquisition costs were deducted. Some pundits suggested that, because Groupon spends a whole heap of its money on marketing, putting it hundreds of millions dollars into the red, the metric was meant to disguise the fact that the business model wasn't working.

Mason took strong objection to this suggestion in his email and said a lot about how well the company was doing, pretty much exactly what you're not meant to do during the quiet period.

However, the SEC could let the IPO go ahead if Groupon files a revision to its prospectus that includes the details of the email and the company numbers that support its claims.

Volatile markets – ie, ones that are swinging all over the place and mostly ending up falling – have put off a lot of IPOs in this year because companies don't want to go public in an atmosphere that will see its shares drop irrespective of the company's worth. However, Mason may decide that a continued delay to the IPO is as damaging to the stock as a bad economic climate and go ahead with the offering – after clearing things up with SEC, of course. ®

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