How Facebook employees can cash out

Russian investors are offering to buy up to $100 million in shares from current and ex-employees of the social-networking site.

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By Jessi Hempel, writer

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NEW YORK (Fortune) -- The Russian investment company Digital Sky Technologies has begun a tender offer to purchase up to $100 million of common stock from current and former Facebook employees, according to sources close to the company. The investment boutique has agreed to pay $14.77 per share, putting the valuation of the company at $6.5 billion.

Digital Sky Technology's last $200 million investment for 2% of the company was an investment in preferred shares and put the valuation at $10 billion. The difference in valuations is attributable to the type of stock that is changing hands.

If fully subscribed, this will give Digital Sky, which is based in Moscow and London, a further 1.54% stake in Facebook and will propel its ownership stake to 3.5%.

Digital Sky Technologies partner Alexander Tamas and his team will bring invaluable knowledge about doing business in Russia and Eastern Europe, where companies are testing different types of business models for social networks. Digital Sky Technologies has investments in several of the largest Internet companies in Russia so the partners are able to evaluate not one strategy, but several strategies in the Russian market place.

In an interview with Fortune last month, Tamas said he believes Facebook is worth every cent. He says he flew to Palo Alto for his first meeting with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg several months ago and walked away certain Facebook would be the most important global Internet company.

This valuation is more generous than the company's program to let employees sell stock last fall at a valuation that was reported to $4 billion.

Facebook confirms the deal is underway, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement that the program is "recognition of Facebook's growth and progress towards making the world more open and connected." To top of page

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