Facebook IPO: Morgan Stanley is big winner

@CNNMoneyInvest February 1, 2012: 5:52 PM ET
Morgan Stanley led some of the biggest tech IPOs, including Google, Zynga and LinkedIn.

Morgan Stanley led some of the biggest tech IPOs, including Google, Zynga and LinkedIn.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- If there's a crown jewel in the world of initial public offerings, it's Facebook.

And the banking winner is Morgan Stanley (MS, Fortune 500).

The investment bank won the coveted spot as the lead underwriter for Facebook's initial public offering, giving Morgan's technology investment bankers at least a decade's worth of bragging rights.

As the lead underwriter, Morgan Stanley is likely to receive the lion's share of fees from the offering.

And that's just the start. It positions Morgan Stanley for lead roles in future Facebook debt offerings or acquisitions.

Facebook: Bankers trade fees for bragging rights

JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) beat out Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) for the second slot on the roster. Goldman Sachs took the third spot in the list of the company's key underwriters.

Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), Barclays (BCS-PD), and boutique media and internet-focused investment bank Allen & Co. are also getting in on the action, listed in the fourth, fifth and sixth underwriting spots in Facebook's prospectus for its impending initial public offering.

Prestige goes a long way. In the fierce fight among financial institutions to be part of Facebook's IPO, the proceeds they'll get will be less robust than they could have been. Facebook didn't break out fees in this SEC filing, but they are rumored to be among one of the lowest ever for an initial public offering.

The size of the offering will change as Facebook tries to sell its story to large investors during the so-called road show in the weeks before it lists on an exchange. It has not made the Nasdaq or New York Stock Exchange decision yet. But the company said it would trade under the ticker symbol of FB.

More banks will be added to the roster. (Groupon (GRPN) ultimately listed 14 underwriters when it went public). With the exception of the top spot, which rarely changes, the lineup can be swapped around as banks vie for a bigger share of fees and a more visible spot.

Morgan Stanley's lead role caps off an impressive run for the bank's technology team. The investment bank led Google's (GOOG, Fortune 500) 2004 IPO. More recently, it had the top spot in several Internet IPOs, including Zynga (ZNGA), Groupon, LinkedIn (LNKD) and Renren (RENN), a Chinese social networking firm often compared to Facebook.

According to Dealogic, Morgan Stanley was lead underwriter in roughly 75% of the 20 largest U.S. Internet IPOs in 2011. For the overall IPO market, Morgan Stanley's market share was second only to Bank of America's.

But underwriting fees dropped precipitously in the fourth quarter of 2011 for most financial firms.

Morgan Stanley's underwriting fees declined 54% in the fourth quarter to $477 million. JPMorgan generated $169 million in stock underwriting, down 65% from the prior year. At Goldman Sachs, underwriting fees dropped to $387 million, down 56% from the same period in 2010. To top of page

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