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Reports: Facebook IPO to begin trading May 17 on schedule, SEC approval days away

Is the Facebook IPO much closer than suspected? Despite expectations that the mid-May projection for the company going public would have to be pushed back at least a month after the purchase of Instagram and recent decelerated growth, rumors have started to circulate this afternoon that things might be back on track. Pending Securities and Exchange Commission approval, we may be days away from an IPO roadshow, with trading beginning somewhere around May 17, as previously rumored.

Officially, the SEC still has to sign off on Facebook’s S-1 filing, but sources for both CNet and Fox Business backed a report from AllThingsD this morning suggesting that such approval is likely to come in a matter of days. If that happens, it’ll be surprising considering the company’s recent spending spree; the $1 billion buy-out of Instagram and the subsequent $550 million pricetag for Microsoft patents are both the kinds of thing that would normally raise eyebrows — and perhaps a second look at the filing details — at the SEC.

According to CNet’s source, PrivCo boss Sam Hamadeh, Facebook’s team is likely to have a Plan B and Plan C if approval isn’t given by the end of this week, with trading pushed back to mid-June (Plan B) or late September (Plan C) should a delay be necessary. But why the rush? Forbes’ Darcy Travlos has an idea, suggesting that Facebook may be interested in, essentially, getting while the getting’s good: “As an investor who likes the Facebook story, I would prefer Facebook to post another quarter in order to reverse its margin compression and to prove its ability to leverage the Instagram transaction into a revenue-generating mobile strategy,” she wrote. “Going public now raises the question:  Is this as good as it gets?”

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