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'China's Facebook,' Renren, files for IPO

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Renren, China's largest social-networking service, filed for a U.S. initial public offering late Friday in a bid to fund expansion.

The so-called Facebook of China plans to sell shares for $9 to $11 each, according to Renren's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Renren said in its filing that it is the leading social networking site as measured by total page views, total number of visits and total user time spent on its websites as of February. Renren cited data from iResearch.

The company's platform -- which also features an online games site, a social commerce site and a professional networking service -- had about 117 million activated users as of March 31, 2011.

Renren said it plans to use proceeds from the IPO to expand its technology, development and marketing. It will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "RENN."

China Internet stocks have been hot on the U.S. market in recent months. Back in December, shares of Dangdang (DANG) and Youku (YOKU) -- China's Amazon and YouTube respectively -- soared after making their U.S. debuts.

Experts have said Renren competitor Kaixin001 could also go public in the U.S. this year.

Meanwhile Baidu (BIDU), China's top online search company in China, has reported stellar earnings -- as has Internet media company Sohu.com (SOHU).

Stateside, the tech IPO market is showing signs of thaw. LinkedIn filed in January, while Demand Media went public the same month. Pandora filed for an IPO in February. And online real estate company Zillow filed to go public Monday.

But everyone's waiting for Facebook -- and the golden child hasn't shown much interest in going public soon.

Still, the social network said earlier this year that it will begin filing public financial statements by April 2012. That's a move likely to coincide with an IPO, as regulatory rules are forcing Facebook's hand.

When companies have more than 499 shareholders, they're required to publicly disclose their financial results and file quarterly reports to the SEC. Facebook has said it expects to pass the 500 shareholder mark sometime this year. To top of page

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